Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
First, let's start with discussing the most common types of bad fat. You've probably already heard of one of the worst types of fat: Trans fat. Trans fat is a byproduct of a process known as hydrogenation. This process adds hydrogen to healthy, liquid oils in order to solidify them. Because of this, trans fats are often labeled as "partially hydrogenated oils".
Trans fats are bad fats because they can cause inflammation and raise bad cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. They are found in many fried foods, margarine, and sweets like frosted cakes, crackers, frozen pizza, and doughnuts.
Another bad fat is saturated fat. Similar to trans fat, consuming too much saturated fat contributes to a rise in bad cholesterol. When our bad cholesterol levels begin to rise, our blood vessels become clogged and our chance of having a heart attack or stroke begins to rise, too. Saturated fat is mostly found in fatty meats like bacon, full-fat dairy products like whole milk, and certain processed foods.
Good fat is often referred to as unsaturated fat, which is then separated into two subcategories: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These good fats can be found in many of the foods we eat, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
Both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats aid in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, while polyunsaturated fats also offer an additional type of good fat known as omega-3 fatty acids.
Though their name may sound misleading to some, omega-3 fatty acids are actually very good for you! They contribute to heart health by preventing blood clots, supporting a regular heartbeat, lowering inflammation, and reducing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. All of these qualities give omega-3 fatty acids the ability to prevent a heart attack, stroke, and even arthritis! *Do you notice a pattern here? Good fats can prevent the same problems that bad fats can cause.*
Omega-3 fatty acids are also crucial to brain health, as they help to improve the memory, support brain structure, and boost cognitive performance. They may also reduce cerebral inflammation, protect neurons, and improve the way neural information is transferred across the axon, enhancing overall brain function. Additionally, they contribute to a youthful appearance because they can stimulate cellular growth in hair, skin, and nails.
A Quick Wrap Up
BAD FAT: saturated fat and trans fat.
- These fats contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol. Avoid these harmful fats by cutting back on things like fried chicken, fatty meats, sugary cakes, and flaky biscuits.
GOOD FAT: unsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- These fats are good for your overall health when eaten in moderation, and can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They can be found in foods like almonds, walnuts, oily fish, and avocados.