seen on Oprah, the definitive guide to your
All fats are not
equal. There are various kinds of fat and the
human body processed them in different ways.
There are commonalities, however. For example,
every type of fat provides nine calories of
energy per gram. Both carbohydrates and protein
provide a lower amount -- four calories per gram
– so fat is actually a more efficient energy
source. Many nutrition experts suggest people
should get 30 percent of their calories from fat
Apart from the
energy gats provide, they have distinct
differences. Fats are classified as saturated,
polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated.
Saturated fats have
been associated with increasing the amount of
LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the
bloodstream. In turn, elevated LDL cholesterol
is associated with increase risk of heart
disease. Saturated fats are found in many foods
from animal products like red meat, eggs, butter
and other dairy products. A few vegetable oils
also contain saturated fats including palm oil
and coconut oil.
are a better choice than saturated fats.
However, they have downsides as well.
Polyunsaturated fats have been shown to lower
LDL cholesterol levels, which is a positive
effect. However, it also may lower the HDL (high
density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is the
"good" cholesterol in the body. Presence of a
high level of HDL cholesterol can decrease the
risk of heart attack, since it helps carry the
LDL cholesterol away from the heart.
Polyunsaturated fats are generally found in
plant-based foods such as corn, safflower,
sesame and sunflower oils. You will also find
polyunsaturated fats in some seeds and nuts.
are the best fats for our health. They help
lower the LDL cholesterol, but they do not lower
the HDL cholesterol. In fact, they may even
raise HDL cholesterol levels. While it is
important to eat only moderate amounts of fat,
the fats that people consume should come
primarily from monounsaturated sources. Several
plants produce foods containing monounsaturated
fats including olives and avocados. They are
also found in almonds and hazelnuts. For this
reason, many medical professionals recommend
that people use
extra virgin olive oil (the best
olive oil) for all cooking and baking.
So, where do
trans fats come in? Trans fats are
fats – usually polyunsaturated fats -- that have
been processed by
hydrogenation or partial
hydrogenation. While chemically the fat appears
not to be saturated, it has similar effects on
the body. In other words, even though trans fat
is not saturated, it has been shown to elevate
the levels of the bad cholesterol – LDL
cholesterol. Because of this connection, trans
fat has been associated with higher risks of