Difference Between Healthy Fats v. Unhealthy Fats

A common question we’re asked is the difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. With high fat fad diets, like the ketogenic-diet, it is important to examine what the difference is between an “unhealthy” fat and a a “healthy” fat.  

Many years ago people thought eating low-fat foods would lead to a low-fat body without taking into consideration the kinds of fats they are consuming. While that myth has been dispelled time and time again, there’s still a lot of confusion among people without a nutrition background about what constitutes a healthy fat. 

Good fats include monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-3’s – these fats do not increase cholesterol and are very heart-healthy. These fats are an essential part of a healthy diet and help to the body absorb nutrients, assist never transmission and maintain cell membrane health.

Unhealthy fats include trans-fats found in hydrogenated oils and some saturated fats. Not all saturated fats are created equal – some may not have either a positive or negative effect on health, such as those found in canola oil – while others, such as those found in butter and ice cream, fall into the “bad” fat category. These “bad” fats result in obesity, heart disease and other devastating health problems.

Rather than look for non-fat products, which may be high in calories or sugar, choose foods with healthy fats that help your heart, lower your cancer risk, maintain your weight and taste great.

Here is a list of six healthy fats that you should start eating today: 

  1. Nuts
    • Many nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help to protect your heart by regulating rythms that can cause heart attacks. Several studies have also shown that eating nuts lower your risk of heart disease and type-3 disease.
  2. Seeds
    • Seeds are a great source of healthy fats. For example, flax seeds contain omega-3’s that have been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Additionally, chia seeeds are loaded with omega-3’s and are also high in protein.
  3. Avocados
    • Avocados can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good cholesterol) and also reduce the risk of prostate and oral cancer.
  4. Cold water fish
    • Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and growth of plaque on heart arteries.
  5. Eggs
    • Eggs are an excellent source of protein, Vitamin A, B, D, and E as well as favorable minerals such as zinc, phosphorous and selenium.
  6. Olive oil
    1. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that lower total cholesterol, normalize blood clotting and help control insulin and blood sugar levels.

 

You might be wondering at this point if you should adopt a low fat or low carb diet for weight loss. A recent 12 month study published in JAMA showed no significant difference in weight loss success with either diet. So what should you eat? Our recommendation is to focus on a diet that you can maintain long term- including wholesome diet high in whole grains, legumes, plant-based protein, nuts and healthy oils, fish, limited red meat and no highly processed foods or refined sugars. This will ultimately set you up for long term success so that you can eat healthfully without worrying about dieting.

Want to eat healthfully but need some help in the cooking department? Check out our sample menus for great options for healthy eating.