It can be tough to understand fat—it comes in many different types, your body makes it and trendy diets can’t agree on whether you should eat it or not. The truth is that not all fats are bad.
When it comes to dietary fats, there are healthy types (unsaturated) and unhealthy types (saturated). Healthy fats can help our bodies in a lot of ways, so it’s best to include them as part of a balanced diet. If you’re unsure about what fats are in your diet, check the nutrition labels on food packages, especially at the grocery store. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new diet plan.
Here’s what you need to know about fats:
Unhealthy fats (saturated)
- Saturated fat. Typically found in red meat, poultry and some dairy products, saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Trans fat. Artificially processed from oil, this fat can increase your cholesterol and risk for cardiovascular disease.
Healthy fats (unsaturated)
- Monounsaturated fatty acids. These can decrease your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and can be found in many different foods.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are found in plant-based foods and oils. Polyunsaturated fatty acids may improve your blood cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These have tons of health benefits, including decreasing the risk of coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and more. Your best source for these is fatty fish like salmon and herring and some plant-based foods like nuts and seeds.
It’s important to know that the fat your body makes is different than dietary fats found in foods—your body makes its own fat when you eat more calories than you need.
While you should be replacing unhealthy fats with healthy ones in your diet, don’t go overboard with eating those either. Fats have twice as many calories as proteins or carbs, so eating too much can cause weight gain and may lead to additional health problems. If you’re looking to eat better, our Online Health Coach can help you take steps towards living healthier. Standard and Basic Option members may be able to earn up to $120 on their MyBlue® Wellness Card for completing their health goals with the Online Health Coach.
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