Good Fats Vs. Bad Fats
Over the years, fat has gotten a bad reputation. Fats are necessary for humans to function and perform at their best, yet many of us hear the word "fat" and we immediately begin to think that the food is bad for us. Ironically, a diet that is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates will help you lose weight more effectively than a low-fat diet. The problem with most fats is that people tend to confuse the bad fats with all fat in general. We can't survive without fats so it's important to make certain we're getting the right kind and amount of fat in our diet. Dietary fats are abundant in our food, but it's important to learn to distinguish between the good and bad fats so that you can make the healthiest food choices.
What Are Good Fats?
The good fats are essentially the unsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats that occur naturally. Within the category of unsaturated fats, there are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These fats can actually help you lower your overall levels of cholesterol and reduce your chances of getting heart disease. These fats should replace the unhealthy saturated fats that are found in many diets. While this may come as a surprise to many people, there is actually no link between saturated fats and an increase in heart disease. Recent research is starting to change what we know even about the traditional "bad" fats in our diet.
These are the fats that you'll most often find in vegetable oils. They are useful for lowering both your cholesterol levels and your triglyceride levels. These are an excellent substitution for saturated fats. On the keto diet, it's important to have a good balance of these fats. One of the more important fats you can get on the diet is Omega-3 fatty acids. These are often found in fish and they have heart benefits that are important to ensure you live a long and healthy life. Look for fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel and catfish. You can also find these healthful fats in flaxseed and walnuts. While you can supplement if you have a deficiency, it's best to aim to get your omega-3 fatty acids from food.
These fats are often considered to help reduce the impact and risk of heart disease. They are commonly found in Mediterranean foods, and you'll find them most often in olive oil in those dishes. Since there is such a low occurrence of heart disease in these countries, the higher level of monosaturated fats is often given credit. One interesting fact about these fats is that they remain liquid at room temperature. If you refrigerate the liquids, they will solidify. You'll find that your olive oil will begin to become solid when it gets below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is normal, and it's a good indicator that you've got a monounsaturated fat on your hands. These fats also provide a healthy dose of vitamin E, which should really derive from your food choices and not supplementation for the best effect. Common sources of these fats include olives, pumpkin seeds, cashews, various nuts and sesame seeds. Olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil are also a good source of these nutrients.
Keto and Unsaturated Fats
When on a keto diet, many people make the mistake of thinking they can eat as much fat as they want and fail to realize that the quality matters as well. When you're choosing fats for your diet, you can't just use the fat content listed on the label. Some fats are much better for you than others. Fats that come from olive oil and coconut oil are sources of good fats. The fats you'll find in nuts are also of the healthy variety. The important thing is that you're reading your nutritional labels to check and see what kind of fats are in your food. A good tip, if it's a fried food then the chances are pretty good it's not going to have many healthy fats.
For years, we've been told to avoid saturated fats at all costs. In a study that followed over 340,000 subjects, it was determined that the intake of saturated fat was not associated with greater risk for heart disease, stroke and other previously associated conditions. The results of the study did not change as the result of age or sex either. Many studies have now been completed on this subject, and the medical community is slowing coming to terms with the fact that saturated fats are not bad for you.
Humans have been consuming foods with saturated fats since their inception. There is even a particular type of saturated fat known as medium-chain triglycerides that are found mainly in coconut oil. These can be digested extremely easily by the body and can be turned into energy nearly instantly. This is accomplished since MCT oils are processed directly by the liver to provide you with an immediate energy boost. With so many benefits for including healthy saturated fats in the diet, it's beginning to become clear that these are also necessary components of a healthy diet.
Saturated Fats and Health Benefits
Saturated fats have a variety of health benefits. They are responsible for improved HDL and LDL cholesterol levels and they also help to maintain bone density. These fats can help you boost your immune system to help fight infections and diseases and they provide support for the creations of hormones like cortisol and testosterone. Saturated fats may also raise the good cholesterol in the blood to avoid LDL building up in the arteries. All of these benefits are obtained from a saturated fat that was previously thought to be unhealthy and bad for you. The best sources of saturated fats on a keto diet are butter, red meat, lard, coconut oil, cream, eggs and cocoa butter.
Natural Trans Fats
You're probably wondering why trans fats are listed in the good fats section. The truth is that most of these fats are extremely bad for you. However, there are some foods where a type of "natural" trans fat is found. These foods have a trans fat known as vaccenic acid, and they are useful for helping you reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. There is also some evidence to suggest these fats may protect against cancer. It's even been found to suppress various types of inflammation, especially in the intestines. You can find this healthy "bad" fat in foods like grass-fed meat and dairy products.
What Are Bad Fats?
There are still risks associated with eating fats that are bad for you. The truth is if your goal is weight loss, you may still lose weight on a ketogenic diet while ingesting bad fats. However, this doesn't mean you're improving your overall level of health. Bad fats are associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancers, including colon and prostate cancer. They can also increase inflammation, which can lead to other diseases and complications. Since the goal is to remain healthy, it's important you rule out the "bad" fats from your diet as well.
Processed Trans Fats
It's the processed trans fats that really give fat a bad name. These processed fats can be very unhealthy for you because they are created during food production. When polyunsaturated fats are processed, these artificial fats are created. When choosing trans fats for your diet, it's essential to go with options that are unprocessed. Overheating and altering the fats can create free radicals that wreak havoc on your body. These fats are often created from oils that are made with seeds that have been genetically altered as well. Avoiding these kinds of fats is essential to any diet to prevent many of the negative risks associated with a high-fat diet.
Risks of Consuming Trans Fats
There are plenty of risks to consuming adulterated and unnatural trans fats. People who consume highly processed foods with trans fats may be at a greater risk for heart disease. They are also putting themselves at a greater risk for developing various types of cancer. This is why it's important to choose healthy meats that haven't been treated with hormones and chemicals. Bad fats can eliminate the balanced ratio between good and bad cholesterol levels, and they can increase inflammation in your body. Additionally, trans fats have the ability to destroy your gut flora, which can lead to all sorts of imbalances and put you at risk for a variety of unhealthy diseases.
Remember that not all trans fats are bad. Look at how the trans fat was created to get a better idea of how these fats can affect your life. If the oil you're about to consume is labeled as any kind of hydrogenated oil, including partially hydrogenated oils, then you want to avoid that food. These oils are often found in foods like crackers, cookies, margarine and most fast food. You should also stay on the lookout for other processed oils including cottonseed oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil and canola oil. Eliminating these fats from your diet will enable you to have a healthier mind and body.
The Low-Fat Lie
Label claims on food products have led to so much misinformation it's hard to know what to think about the food you buy. Even when you buy a food that looks good on the label, you'll find out later that certain chemicals and ingredients aren't required to be listed if they are under a certain amount. Terms like fat-free and natural are sure signs that something has usually been done to the product to make it that way. The truth is that many of these products contain other ingredients that may actually make them more harmful for you. Look on the back of most fat-free foods and you'll discover that they are using sugar to boost the flavor profile and reduce the fat content. Compare the label of a low-fat product with one that is normal, and you'll likely be surprised at all of the extra ingredients that are needed to make the low-fat option.
There is a lot of confusion about what foods and what types of fats are safe to eat. On a keto diet, avoid anything that is processed or hydrogenated and you'll be able to reap the benefits of a low-carb diet. Check your labels carefully and if you don't know what an ingredient is, then look it up online to see if it's something you really want to put in your body. If the ingredient list is extremely long or looks a bit like the start of a science fiction novel, put the food down and grab something with fewer ingredients.