Fats: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Fat-Free = Healthy…NOT!!

Decoding all of the information provided on a nutrition label can seem to most like deciphering ancient Egyptian drawings. Impossible, right? This is why I have found it easier to feed my family “real food” whenever possible. You know, food found at its most natural state (without a label), fresh veggies, fresh fruit…But it is still necessary to purchase some of our foods packaged and this is why it is important to understand the information on the nutrition label.

Most of us look at calories alone. Not really sufficient. Others of us look at sugar content or carb content; both important, but definitely not the end all be all of determining nutritional value. Probably the most confusing and therefore overlooked information on any nutrition label is the fat content. Not everyone understands the difference in fats, or that there even are more than one kind of fat, and most assume that if an item is fat-free, then it must be good for us. Well, there are four types of fats that you should be aware of: saturated fats, trans-fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats including omega-3 fatty acids.

The Good: Lowering Cholesterol and Decreasing Your Risk of Heart Disease

Monounsaturated Fats                                                                                   

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter

Polyunsaturated Fats

  • Corn oil
  • Walnuts
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout)
  • Soy-milk
  • Tofu

Omega-3 Fatty Acids- these are a type of polyunsaturated fats found mostly in fish.Omega-3 fatty acids have the following health benefits.

  • Reduced risk of some cancers
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Promotes a healthy pregnancy. DHA? Its an omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Helps battle fatigue
  • Prevents and reduces the symptoms of depression and ADHD
  • Protects against memory loss
  • Eases arthritis and joint pain

The Bad & Therefore Ugly: Increase Risk of Heart Disease and Raise Cholesterol

Saturated Fats

  • Coconut oil
  • High fat cuts of beef
  • Chicken with the skin
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice Cream
  • Milk
  • Cream

Trans Fats

  • Packaged snack foods
  • Fried foods
  • Candy bars
  • Stick margarine
  • Commercially bakes pastries
  • Fast food

General Guidelines

  1. Try eliminating trans fats from your diet all-together.
  2. Limit saturated fats from your diet by choosing white meat over red, olive oil over butter, skim or 1% milk over whole milk, and low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses.
  3. Eat omega-3 fats every day.

Being educated about what we put into our bodies is important. Take the time to read your labels, and when possible, skip the label all together. Fresh is best!

One Response to “Fats: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”
  1. This is really helpful. I knew about some of this stuff but not all of it. It’s going to be extremely helpful for me to know stuff like this because I live with my parents and my mother has a lot of heart problems. Not because of food issues, but they certainly are not helping. It will be easier to get her to change the way she eats if I understand stuff like this better. so thank you for posting it.

    Also, I wanted to say I’m super proud of you for your mission. I see so many mothers these days who just give their kids all kinds of crap that will cause health problems in the long run because they don’t want to take the time to actually make something healthy. It’s good to see that you care about yourself and your family enough to actaully teach your daughts how to eat rigth and be healthy by being a good example for them. It’s so encouraging to see that not all hope for humanity is lost 🙂

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