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Time to Chew the Fat

Don’t be afraid to eat good fat! Fat plays a vital role in your health and is especially important for cell membrane integrity. The key is to eat the correct types and amounts of fats. It can become confusing as to what fats you should eat. Try to stay away from foods with labels that include the terms trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and saturated fats. Instead, eat unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats included. These are the fats that are good for your heart health and cholesterol.

The Relationship between Cholesterol and Fats

Saturated fats may increase LDL, and trans fats have been shown in studies to increase the risk of developing heart disease. Unsaturated fats have been well studied and the health benefits are recognized worldwide. Unsaturated fats can help lower LDL levels and decrease inflammation. Here is a breakdown of cholesterol:

● HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol found in your blood.

● LDL cholesterol is the “bad” kind.

● The key is to keep LDL levels low and HDL high, which may protect against heart disease and stroke.

● Conversely, high levels of LDL cholesterol can clog arteries and low HDL can be a marker for increased cardiovascular risk

Let’s look at some examples of unsaturated fat, heart-healthy foods. The good stuff!

Monounsaturated fats come from places like:

● Olive and sesame oils

● Avocados

● Olives

● Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)

● Peanut butter

Polyunsaturated fats from foods such as:

● Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds

● Flaxseed

● Walnuts

● Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines) and fish oil

● Soymilk

● Tofu

With acknowledgment to healthy fat choices, we should know which fats to avoid. Keep in mind trans fats are created industrially and added to foods to prolong shelf life but wreak havoc on the human body. Trans fats and saturated fats not only raise bad LDL cholesterol but simultaneously lowers good HDL levels. Artificial trans fats can also create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions and contributes to insulin resistance, which increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

A few examples of where trans fats are most prevalent:

● Commercially baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough

● Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)

● Stick margarine, vegetable shortening

● Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)

● Anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, even if it claims to be “trans-fat-free”

Take the approach to avoid saturated fats and implement more unsaturated fats into your diet. LeanFeast offers multiple food options rich with heart-healthy fats such as salmon and also carries bottles of our own Turbo Sauce which include omegas (polyunsaturated fats) and is a delicious addition to any meal!

An image of healthy fats including spinach, fish, nuts, and avocado