I’m going to be honest here. As much as I love to be original and creative, sometimes I do need to be a bit “boring” because I want to make our blog as varied in the health spectrum as possible. This means that sometimes I just want to educate and teach what nutrition is all about. With that being said, let’s dive right in.
I really don’t know why that there’s all this shaming on carbs and fats, but never protein. There’s fat-free, low-carb, but never low-protein. In fact, packages emphasize and highlight their high protein content. I think this is spreading the wrong message. People need all three macronutrients – carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and proteins. Not one is better than the other. I decided to kick off my three part nutrition series (because there are three macronutrients) with fats. I think the word “fat” makes it easy for people to steer clear of them. I mean people are trying to lose fat when they put up on their New Year’s Resolution list: lose weight.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s the type of fats you eat that’s important. I can’t live a day without my daily dose of nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, you name it) which are packed with healthy fats and I can truly attest that nuts haven’t made me fat.
Now you might ask, what is a “healthy” and “unhealthy” fat? Healthy fats are unsaturated fats, while unhealthy ones are saturated or trans. Let me explain.
SATURATED FATS| Fat molecules are made out of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, but mostly carbon and hydrogen. When fat is saturated, this means that the molecule is saturated with hydrogens. It’s reached the maximum number. This makes saturated fats solid at room temperature. Butter, for instance, is a prime example.
Saturated fats increase your LDL (low density lipoprotein) and increase your HDL. LDL is the cholesterol that is deemed “bad.” It causes plaque to build up in your blood vessels which overtime will have negative effects on your blood pressure and blood flow. HDL (high density lipoprotein) remove plaque from your blood vessels and transport them to your liver which destroys them. As you can see, while saturated fats do increase HDL, the good cholesterol, it increases LDL, the bad one, too. What if there was something that would only increase the good and decrease the bad? This is where unsaturated fats come in play.
UNSATURATED FATS | This means that there is fewer hydrogens in a fat molecule than a saturated fat molecule. This allows the fat molecule to “kink” meaning, it has a weird curvy shape to it. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, so think olive oil.
Like hinted from above, unsaturated fats decrease LDL while increase HDL.
TRANS FATS| This is the worst of the worst. Trans fats are man-made unsaturated fats HOWEVER, trans fats increase LDL and decrease HDL. It’s taking away the good stuff while bringing in the bad stuff. You may ask, where is trans fats found in? They’re found in pretty much all processed foods so chips, cookies, and so forth.
Now that you know what the types of fats there are, and which ones are bad and good for you, let me compile a list of the foods in all three types of categories of fat.
- fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel
- olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil
- sunflower seeds
- red meat
- dairy products made from cream or whole milk
- french fries
- chicken nuggets
So make sure that when you say you’re staying clear of fat, it’s not those healthy ones, but the unhealthy ones!
What is your favorite unsaturated food?