by Dr. Mohsen: Unsaturated vs. Saturated Fats and Trans Fats Which Fats Should I stay away from and which should I eat?
With all the information out there on dieting and which fats you should avoid, it can be a challenge to pick a healthy diet. You need to understand that we need fats, protein and carbohydrates for essential nutrition. Finding the correct balance will help you achieve an optimal weight for your lifestyle and give you the energy you need to stay active and healthy. Fats play a particularly important role in your overall health. Avoiding fats altogether and substituting with carbohydrates is not a good solution as this can lead to weight gain, elevated insulin and sugar levels, and contribute to the metabolic syndrome. Make sure you incorporate healthy fats and carbohydrates, like whole grains, into your diet along with at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. Don’t be afraid to indulge once in a while with your diet, but not too much! Healthy fats fall into the category “unsaturated fats”. They do not contribute to atherosclerosis and are used by your body for healthy functions. They will lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase your HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the two unsaturated fats. They’re mainly found in fish such as salmon, trout and herring, avocados, olives, walnuts and liquid vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, safflower, canola, olive and sunflower.
Dangerous fats are the saturated and trans fats. Trans fats are created in an industrial process and are particularly harmful and should be avoided. Both will raise your LDL cholesterol and cause plaque to form that builds up in the arteries and contributes to heart disease. The majority of saturated fat comes from animal products such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, butter, cream, cheese and other dairy products. Doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods that are high in trans fats. Limit fried fast food because commercial shortening and deep-frying fats continue to be made by hydrogenation and contain saturated fat and trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends that adults reduce their intake of trans fats and limit their consumption of saturated fat to 5 to 6% of total calories. Eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Also limit red meat and sugary foods and beverages.