Good Fats, Bad Fats: Get with the (blood) flow
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Good or bad? How to tell the big “fat” difference
Choose healthy fats, like avocados
It’s comforting news that some fats are not in the healthy-eating “sin bin”. What’s important now, however, is to make sure we eat the right types of fats – some of them do need to stay permanently off the field – and the right amounts of them. Replacing “bad” fats with “good” fats leads to much healthier cholesterol levels, and when cholesterol levels are low, there is less chance of atherosclerosis. So how do you tell the difference between the two?
It’s not too difficult, actually. Fats that are described as saturated or trans are the most critical ones to limit (limit to 10% of your total calories). Fats described as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, on the other hand, are ones you should include as a regular part of your diet. Overall, fat calories should make up between 20% to 30% of your daily calorie intake.
Most foods that contain fat will have a mixture of types of fat, but one fat will usually be predominate. The following table shows the four main fat groups and foods containing mostly that type of fat.
You can also check food labels for fat content. Although listing trans fat is not yet required in Australia, listing saturated fat is a requirement. If you read the label, and keep in mind which sorts of foods are also going to be high in trans fat, you should be able to work out fairly easily whether a food is a “goodie” or a “baddie” in terms of fat content. But don’t forget to watch the other nutritional values as well, especially the calories if you are trying to manage your weight. And, as always, keep portion sizes under control, whether they’re full of good fat or not!
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This article was compiled in consultation with CalorieKing.com.au experts and in reference to the following sources:
American Heart Organisation, 'Atherosclerosis,' www.americanheart.org
Charlotte Grayson, MD, 'Trans Fat Raises Bad Cholesterol,' WebMD Medical News, April 2004, www.content.health.msn.com
Gordon M. Wardlaw, Contemporary Nutrition (2003), McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, pp 143-159
Last updated: January 31st, 2007
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