Don't Say No to Fat, Say No to Bad Fat

Updated at: Jun 26, 2013
Don't Say No to Fat, Say No to Bad Fat

While some fats are bad for your body, one must understand the difference between the good and bad and their advantages and disadvantages respectively.

Dr. Rekha Sharma
Exercise & FitnessWritten by: Dr. Rekha SharmaPublished at: Jun 26, 2013

Girl eating steak with large utensilsNot all fats are bad. While some fats are bad for your body, one must understand the difference between the good and bad and their advantages and disadvantages respectively. Your body needs fat to provide energy and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Certain fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 are healthy and essential fatty acids and hence need to be consumed It is important to choose fats wisely as some are healthier for you than the others. 

[Read: Fats can be Good for your Health]

Below are the benefits of adding good fats to your diet and avoiding the bad ones.

Dietary components like fats and physical activity , effect the cholesterol levels in the blood. Two types of cholesterol are produced by the body. LDL is the bad cholesterol which clogs the arteries and causes heart disease while,  HDL is the good one which cleanses the arteries and protects one from heart disease.  The key is to keep LDL levels low and HDL levels high by healthy eating practices and exercise. There is also a very popular myth that a low-fat diet is the key to losing weight, managing cholesterol, and preventing other diseases. Essentially, more than just the amount of fat, it is the type of fat you eat that makes all the difference. The risk of various lifestyle diseases is inevitably elevated if bad fats are included in one’s diet. Bad fats increase cholesterol while good fats protect your heart and support overall health. In fact, omega-3 fats Alpha linolenic acid or n3, reduces LDL, increases HDL, and reduces triglycerides and improves the body’s ability to manage body weight and metabolism and thus is a good recommendation
MUFA also reduces LDL and triglycerides and also gives a good glycemic control – this is also a good recommendation.

Following simple yet effective steps may help you get the right fats in your diet:

• Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories. Include MUFA and N3 fatty acids in your diet. A good source of these fatty acids is canola oil which is also trans-fat free. To keep fats low use slim milk, egg whites, plain yogurt etc.

• Other sources of mono-unsaturated fats are nuts and seeds. These fats may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering bad LDL cholesterol and controlling blood sugar. Infact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a claim that stated that “ Limited and non-conclusive evidence suggests that eating about 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the un-saturated fat content in canola oil”.

• Increase other sources of omega-3 fat intake from sources such as salmon, walnuts, almonds , flax seeds etc  . These fats are not naturally produced by the human body and hence must be consumed.

• Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat per day. Saturated fats raises your blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart diseases.

• Avoid trans-fat or limit it to 1% of your daily intake of calories. Trans-fat increases the risk of heart diseases in two ways: It raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol levels. It can be avoided easily - by putting fried foods, biscuits, chips and other similar junk food on your “skip” list, avoiding fast foods, checking food labels for trans-fat, avoiding partially hydrogenated oils like vanaspati.

• Avoid dietary fats that increase cholesterol. This includes avoiding foods such as butter, cheese, red meat, cream, eggs yolks, sour cream etc.

Dr. Rekha Sharma, President, Indian Dietetic Association and Director, Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Diabetes Foundation (India)

Read more articles on Healthy Eating.


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