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Fats and Eating Healthily

Fat – a word that is often negatively associated with unhealthy food products. However, not all types of fat are unhealthy. There are fats that are necessary for the human body and these are needed by the brain, heart and body cells.

Healthy fat that is important to human body are those that are found in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA which help reduce cardiovascular disease, improve a person’s mood, and help prevent dementia. Aside from that, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble meaning these vitamins are only digested, absorbed and transported with the aid of fats.

The importance of fat in the human body cannot be undermined. However this doesn’t mean that fat should be taken in indiscriminately. The human body needs fat since there are compounds that are not naturally produced by the body and are essential nutrients that are only found in fat but the amount should not be in great quantities.

Examples of fat that are needed by the human body are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats which include Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids both of which belong to the group of unsaturated fats; both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are liquid at room temperature but solidify with cold temperature. Unsaturated fats are derived from vegetables and plants.

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Monounsaturated fats are from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil. It is also found in avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame). Polyunsaturated fats are found in safflower, sesame, corn, cottonseed and soybean oils while Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements.

Fat that is not needed by the human body are those that are found in saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are usually associated with the increase of LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol; saturated fat is solid at room temperature. Saturated fat can be found at animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs.

On the other hand, trans fats or hydrogenated fats are found in processed food such as donuts, fries; trans fat is usually used to prolong the shelf life of a product. Just like saturated fat, trans fat is solid at room temperature. Trans fat should be avoided since it raises the LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol, also known as good cholesterol.

A person must be able to distinguish between good or healthy fat and bad or unhealthy fat. Knowing the difference between the two can help aid in better eating habits and ultimately leading to eating healthily.

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