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Good Fat vs Bad Fat: The Misunderstood Macro-Nutrient

Updated on October 18, 2015

Do you know the Difference between Good Fats and Bad Fats

Your Body Requires Fat

There are some things in life that are just naturally predisposed to be bad. Like the snake for example, or a Spider. It really doesn't matter what species of snake or spider it is, it could be completely harmless, but it is still given the perception of being bad simply for being what it is. Doesn't really seem fair, but it's a part of life. Fats also fall into this "bad" category. You hear the word and you cringe. Some people even develop eating disorders because of the fear of becoming fat/overweight. Now there is a serious overweight epidemic in America. So serious that Obesity is now considered a disease. In earlier days it was always thought a low fat diet could manage our weight problems. You walk into your neighborhood grocery store or Walmart and all you see are low fat cookies, chips, and ice creams. So if there is a low fat version of pretty much all the products in the store, and the majority of people are going low fat, then why is there still an overweight problem? Because going low fat is clearly not the only answer to weight loss. Its not that simple. Its not about how much fat you eat, what's more important is the kinds of fats you eat. Fat free is a termed used loosely and does not necessarily mean that its healthy or you can eat as much as you want for that matter. Most fat free foods are high in sugar and calories. We actually need fats daily for the body to function correctly. The general idea is to replace all of the bad fats you eat with good fats. Easier said than done right? In order to accomplish this you must know the difference between a good fat and a bad one. Lets distinguish the differences between the two.


Examples of Bad Fats

Bad Fats

I've always been the type of person who wanted to hear the bad news first, so lets start with the bad fats. You already know there are going to be a lot of things you are currently eating on this list. Its human nature to like something that's bad for you. When foods are packaged commercially, they need to have a decent shelf life (how long it can sit on the shelf of your grocery store/restaurant before turning bad/spoiled). In order to have a longer shelf life, they are usually packaged in shortening or margarine which are considered Trans Fats. Fried foods, candy bars, commercially packaged and baked cookies, chips, doughnuts cakes and pizzas are all examples of Trans fat and something you should avoid altogether. Just so you know, there is no amount of Trans fats that is considered healthy. They are the root cause of some of the major health concerns and you should abstain from eating them if possible. Most animal products (seafood, meat, eggs and diary) contain Saturated fats, which is also a bad fat. Saturated fats will elevate your total cholesterol, mainly LDL (bad cholesterol). Consumed excessively, they are have also been directly related to an added risk of heart disease, weight gain and certain types of cancers. Lard, cheese, ice cream, whole dairy products, coconut oil and meats that are cut with high fat content (usually pork and beef) are all examples of foods that are found to be consistently high in Saturated fats. Some plant foods have also been found to contain high concentrations of Saturated fats such as coconut and palm oils. Its close to impossible to eliminate all of the Saturated fats form your diet, your focus should be in reducing your intake to a much smaller amount.

Avocado,Tomato and Mango Salsa

Ingredients for Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa

  • 1 Mango, peeled,seeded and diced
  • 1 Avocado, peeled,pitted and diced
  • 4 Tomatoes, medium size, diced
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded, minced
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro, fresh, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Lime Juice, fresh
  • 1/4 cup Red Onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the mang, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic. Stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion and olive oil. Allow flavors to blend by refrigerating for 30 minutes prior to serving

Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 serving
Calories 158
Calories from Fat108
% Daily Value *
Fat 12 g18%
Carbohydrates 14 g5%
Fiber 4 g16%
Protein 2 g4%
Sodium 397 mg17%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa

Cast your vote for Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa

Examples of Good Fats

Good Fats

All of our major organs need fat to function properly, including the brain. So attempting to eliminate fat out of your diet completely is not an option you can consider. Fats assist the body in absorbing nutrients, they maintain the structural integrity of cell membranes, control your moods and nerve transmissions, fights fatigue and promotes overall health in general. Ironic as it may seem, fats are imperative to your diet. Monounsaturated Fats such as avocados, olives, peanut butter, oils (sunflower, olive, peanut) and nuts (peanuts, pecans, almonds, cashews) are all good fats that support the lowering of your LDL cholesterol (bad), while augmenting your HDL (good cholesterol) and decreasing your total cholesterol as a whole and the risk of heart disease. Polyunsaturated Fats have the same lowering of your triglycerides and LDL cholesterol capabilities as the Monounsaturated ones. Found abundantly in Seafood (trout, tuna, salmon, and mackerel) oils (fish, soybean, corn,) walnuts, sunflower, sesame and flaxseeds. Mediterranean diets typically have an ample supply of this type of fat. Omega 3 fatty acids also fall into this category. Good fats are beneficial to overall heart health and are a quality source of vitamin E, which is usually absent in most diets. The American Heart Association recommends you eat Omega 3's (fatty fish) two times a week.


Fats should be approximately 30% of your Total Caloric Intake

How much Fat does your Body Need?

So how much fat is too much you ask? well the answer to this question is always going to vary because everyone is different. The amount of your fat consumption is contingent on your age, weight, lifestyle, and especially the current condition of your health. Where you carry fat is also a factor. Belly fat surrounding the abdominal organs has been directly related to Diabetes and insulin resistance. Its recommended that total fat intake should be approximately 30% of the calories you consume. Saturated fats should be kept below 10% of your total calories. So if your diet consists of 2000 calories a day, less than 200 of those should come from saturated fats. Trans fats should be avoided all together or 1% of your total daily calories. An easy way to distinguish the good from the bad is that good fats are normally in liquid form (olive oil) and bad fights are more often solid (butter or shortening). In your fitness/health quest, don't be fooled by that "no fat" or "low fat" label, go with good fat. Avoid any commercially packaged/backed goods if all possible, instead of red meat, replace it with white chicken or turkey, use olive oil in place of butter. The yolk in eggs are high in cholesterol content and are not needed, substitute them with egg whites. Replace your ice cream with yogurt, whole milk with skim or 1% milk, and cheese should be of the reduced fat variety. Inserting good fats in place of the bad ones will not only promote your overall health, but along with a consistent exercise program, it will assist in weight management/loss as well.

Comments

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    • Alphadogg16 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin W 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for the read Andy, Thailand?? Wooow....I won't mention things that I've seen about some if the food over there. I'm not a spring chicken myself, so I try to eat healthier, but I hear you, it's not easy when you love to eat.

    • Alphadogg16 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin W 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for the read Andy, Thailand?? Wooow....I won't mention things that I've seen about some if the food over there. I'm not a spring chicken myself, so I try to eat healthier, but I hear you, it's not easy when you love to eat.

    • fiftyish profile image

      Andy Aitch 

      4 years ago from UK & South East Asian Region

      Thanks for the article Kevin.

      There's such a lot of information out there - a lot of misinformation too - that it's nice to see something written clearly and with authority. Almonds, cucumber, and wholemeal is my staple at the moment, but I still need to learn a lot more about what's inside the foods we eat, especially the convenience food, aka junk food, that most of us are susceptible, at least sometimes.

      I live in northern Thailand, so I dread to think what goes into some of the meals. Thai food is delicious, but oil is required for most cooked Thai dishes. I think palm oil is the most common, which unfortunately is not so good for us humans :(

      Andy Aitch

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It's easy to get confused when buying stuff at the grocery. I really appreciate the information. This will help me choose healthier food.

    • Alphadogg16 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin W 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for the read ladies, Hopefully I am assisting you in reaching your fitness/health goals.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Is Fat bad or good? The misunderstood macro-nutrient I live in the most southern part of Europe and enjoy the healthy eating habits here part of the good fats section great hub

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      I see that I eat a lot of the good fats, thanks for the list. I am glad to see olives on this list, they are one of my favorite snacks.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      "Most fat free foods are high in sugar and calories." This is not a popularly known fact. Thank you for the explanation on good and bad fats.

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