Let’s take a look at the various types of fats, their effect on our body, and their sources. Adults should get 20% to 35% of their calories from fat, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Many of us cut the science behind fats and replace it with refined carbohydrates, so we miss out on the benefits of healthy fats. Eating lots of refined carbohydrates can increase triglyceride levels, which can contribute to heart and blood vessel disease.
Type of fat: Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats are unsaturated healthy fats, that are in liquid state at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats can help you lower your total body cholesterol level. This category lists Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are known as essential fatty acids because our bodies don’t make them. So, we have to get them from food.
In the world of good unsaturated fats, Omega-3 is the real superstar! They fight inflammation, help control blood clotting, and lower blood pressure and triglycerides. The American Heart Association suggests eating at least two 3.5 ounce servings of Omega-3 fatty acids-rich fats each week.
Foods that contain Polyunsaturated fats; Nuts, Seeds, Corn Oil, Fatty Fish, Safflower Oil.
Type of fat: Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats are also considered healthy fats that are liquid at room temperature. These fats raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL.
Foods that contain Monounsaturated fats; Nuts, Seeds, Corn Oil, Avocados, Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil.
Type of fat: Saturated Fats
Saturated fat increases total cholesterol and LDL, and may boost your type 2 diabetes risk. Meat, seafood, dairy products, palm, and coconut oils, are the main sources. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products to cut the saturated fat. They recommend that no more than 10% of total calories come from saturated fat. For example, if you eat 2000 calories a day, keep your saturated fat intake below 22 g.
Type of fat: Trans Fats
Trans fats are liquid oils bombarded with hydrogen so they stay solid at room temperature. They’re found in many processed and fried foods. Trans fats increase total cholesterol and LDL, and lower HDL. Always check food labels, if you see the words, hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or shortening, it contains trans fat. Technically, less than 0.5g per serving is trans-fats-free, it depends on how many servings are in the package.
Earlier it was thought that eating dietary cholesterol, like in shrimp or eggs, would raise cholesterol. It does to some extent, but it is more important to focus on not eating saturated and trans fats. For people with normal cholesterol, the current recommendation is no more than 300mg of cholesterol daily, while people at high risk of heart disease should consume less than 200mg daily. For example, 1 egg contains about 200mg of cholesterol.
Further reading: How To Start a Low Carb Diet