Wellness 101: Understanding Good vs. Bad Fats

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Unlike muscle-building proteins and immune boosting antioxidants, healthy fats surely don’t get the props they deserve. Sure, there’s harmful trans and saturated types fats lingering in lots of our favorite foods, but with constant news coverage focusing on the bad fats as opposed to good fats, it’s so hard to believe healthy fats actually do exist.

Luckily, licensed nutritionist Dana Kofsky weighed in on understanding bad and good fats, so you can stop beating yourself up over that scoop of guacamole. (Hey, done correctly, guacamole can be quite nutritious!)

Bad Reputation

Fortunately, good fats do exist, but it’s important to question why fats have received such a negative reputation. According to Dana Kofsky, licensed nutritionist, recent marketing campaigns have definitely been crucial in creating this stigma.

 “For years it’s been ingrained in our heads that fat is the enemy and a lot of people have chosen to believe that. During the fat-free fad, advertisers created ad campaigns to encourage the public to avoid foods high in fat – whether it was good or bad. What people aren’t aware of is when you make foods low fat, artificial products or sugar is added to make them taste good,” says Kofsky.

What’s The Difference?

Believe it or not, there are major differences when it comes to fats. Unlike cholesterol boosting trans fats found in processed foods like potato chips, healthier monounsaturated fats are known for their numerous health benefits.

“To put it simply: bad fats, or saturated fats, can raise your LDL cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Good fats, in comparison, lower your LDL cholesterol levels, therefore reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Kofsky.

Noting The Benefits

Amongst the many benefits of monounsaturated types of fats, include the positive effects they have on your heart health. According to the American Heart Association, these types of fats lower your cholesterol levels, reducing your risk of strokes and heart disease. But for experts like Dana Kofsky, good fats can also better your bodily functionals overall.

“Good fats can also help aid in weight loss, provide energy, build healthy cells, increase brain function, help the body absorb vitamins better, help with hormonal function, provide healthier skin, and help protect vital organs,” adds Kofsky.

What Foods To Pick

Now that you have a better understanding of which fats to try, and which ones to avoid; nothing should be stopping you from adding some monounsaturated fats to your routine.

“Examples of foods that are prime options for healthy fats include avocados, olive oil, nuts or nut butters, and seeds,” says Kofsky.

Other excellent, tasty sources of good fats are coconut oil and fish. However, it’s important to consume these types of fats in moderation. The idea is that you should use healthy fats to replace saturated and trans fats, according to the American Heart Association.

Also, always check the label! Labels of healthy fat foods will contain no trans-fats. You’ll also want to steer clear of processed vegetable oils such as  rapeseed (canola oil), soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, and peanut oil. Look for foods cooked with healthy fats such as cold pressed olive or coconut oil.

Courtney Leiva is a Katniss Everdeen wanna-be still roaming in the Jersey woods somewhere. Her work has appeared on HelloGiggles, BeautyStat, Styleblazer and The Beauty Bean, amongst others. Aside from beauty writing, editing and tweeting, Courtney SWEARS that sarcasm is a lady’s best accessory!

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