Fats - the Worst and the Best!

by : Alien

Current guidelines for fat consumption are no more than 30% of total calories from fat. Most overweight or obese people consume twice that amount. Not only does this fat cause people to gain weight, but it also increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Different foods contain many different types of fats, which can be described as being good, not so good, bad, or very bad fats. The following sections give a breakdown of the different types of fats.

Saturated fats are basically bad fats and are usually solid in nature, since the body uses them to produce other really bad fats called LDL cholesterol. This LDL cholesterol is what blocks your arteries and causes heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. Saturated fats usually come from animal sources: meats, cheese, butter, milk, and other whole-milk dairy products. Some saturated fats are also, found in tropical oils, such as coconut, cocoa butter, and palm kernel oils.

Polyunsaturated fats are usually liquid in nature. Thesefats, made from vegetables, include sunflower, cottonseed, safflower, and com oils. In small amounts, they can help to reduce your cholesterol. However, taken in excess, these polyunsaturated oils can cause an inflammatory reaction in the body's tissues and prevent the immune system from working properly. The,se polyunsaturated fats may also be susceptible to oxidation, which then allows the cells to absorb bad fats (saturated fats and cholesterol). Here we have a case of a good fat turning bad.

Triglycerides are another type of fat that can be bad for you. If you eat excess amounts of refined sugar products (cakes, pies, candy, soda, baked goods, etc.), or eat a lot of fatty foods, or drink excessive amounts of alcohol, then the liver changes these excess calories into a fonn of fat known as triglycerides. Triglycerides have also recently been implicated in blocking the arteries to the heart and brain.

Polyunsaturated fats, as we have seen previously, can be good in small to moderate amounts, but can turn really bad in large amounts. This is because of their content of omega-6 fatty acids. These omega-6 fatty acids are contained in vegetable oil, such as sunflower, safflower, corn, and cottonseed. These omega-6 fatty acids can help to lower blood cholesterol in small amounts. However, when you eat more polyunsaturated fats, you increase the absorption of omega-6 fatty acids in the bloodstream, which causes your cells to start to absorb more cholesterol and saturated fat. Here is another example of a good fat turned bad.

Monounsaturated fats are, by far, the best fats. These fats are liquid at room temperature. These really good fats can lower your total blood cholesterol, increase your good HDL cholesterol, and lower your bad LDL cholesterol. These good fats are found in olive oil, peanut oil, and canola oil. They should always be used, as substitutes for the potentially bad polyunsaturated fats, like corn, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed oils. The good monounsaturated fats are also found in most nuts and avocados.