The Skinny on Dietary Fats


Bad Fats

a)

Trans fats Most are created when manufacturers turn liquid oils into more solid fat like shortening and margarine. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol.

b)

Saturated fats This occurs naturally in all fatty foods, but mostly in dairy products, meats and tropical oils like palm and coconut. Saturated fats raises both LDL ("lousy") and HDL ("healthy") cholesterol.


Better Fats

a)

Polyunsaturated fats (corn, soy and sunflower) These fats lower cholesterol levels.

b)

Monounsaturated fats (canola and olive) These fats tend to lower cholesterol and may help the body maintain proper levels of HDL-C ("Healthy") cholesterol.


Best Fats

 

Omega 3s This is a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in high amounts in flax seeds (picture at right), English walnuts and in seafood, especially higher fat, cold-water varieties like tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel. They may prevent blood platelets from sticking to artery walls, which lowers the risk for blocked blood vessels and heart attacks. How fish oils work isn't certain but the leading theory is: When the heart muscle is stressed, the fish fat stabilizes the heart cells which allows the heart to beat regularly. When there is trouble, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is released from the cell membrane and it suppresses the extra beats. The omega 3 fatty acids restores a balance disrupted by excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids and saturated fats. Omega 3s can also help to lower blood triglycerides.