The ketogenic diet has swept the nation and people have come to realize the importance of fats. We aren’t referring to just any fats because the monounsaturated fats in an avocado, for example, are vastly different from the trans fats in hydrogenated oils. Fat is a necessary nutrient that can offer different health benefits, provided you choose the right ones.
The Two Main Fat Categories:
While there are a lot of different fats, they can be divided into two main categories: unsaturated fats (the good ones) and saturated fats (the unhealthy ones). Unsaturated fats should be the primary fats you consume because they are derived from plants and work to improve heart health. Saturated fats, on the other hand, are typically found in animal products and can increase your risk of high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and heart attack.
When it comes to unsaturated fats, there are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Both of these fats can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and certain oils. When it comes to polyunsaturated fats, it is integral to balance out the consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Most people consume an excess amount of omega-6s (fried foods, snack foods, and baked goods), which can lead to chronic inflammation. You cannot avoid omega-3s (nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and wild caught fish), even though most people do avoid these foods.
Be Diligent With Your Fat Choices:
Remember that fats do add calories to your diet. This is important to remember if you are trying to lose weight by restricting your caloric intake. Keep in mind that most oils have about 120 calories per tablespoon. Even if you are consuming extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, and avocado oil, you can pile on the calories if you drown all your meals in them.
Polyunsaturated & Monounsaturated Fats:
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have been known to help boost memory, improve heart health, lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). As we mentioned before, omega-3s and omega-6s are considered polyunsaturated fats. Be sure to focus on walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, olive oil, tahini, macadamia nut oil, avocados, hemp seeds, Brussels sprouts, and more. Additionally, help control blood clotting, lower triglycerides, and fight inflammation by balancing your omega-3 and omega-6 consumption.
The goal is to limit or eliminate these fats from your diet. They are found in a lot of processed foods and contain a lot of hydrogen, so that they remain solid at room temperature. Trans fats also increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Not to mention, food manufactures can hide trans fats in foods as long as it contains half a gram or less per serving. Check out our article about how to successfully read nutrition labels so you can avoid trans fats.
Generally speaking, you don’t want a lot of these in your diet, especially if they come from processed foods, frozen foods, or animal products. They can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. If you are going to consume saturated fat, your best food choice is unfiltered, virgin coconut oil. While it contains saturated fat, it also is rich in medium-chain triglycerides that can help with weight loss and boost the metabolism.
We hope you choose the right fats from here on out. If you have any questions or comments about which fat sources to consume, please comment below.