With all the talk these days about healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats, you might be wondering what exactly is a healthy fat? Never fear, your Dinner Diva is here to help clear up the confusion. If you’re going to go thru all the time and effort to prepare a meal for your family isn’t it important to know what constitutes a heathy fat? First off, never automatically buy the products that say “low fat” or “fat free”. Take a look at the ingredients. I’ll bet sugar is one of the first things listed as an ingredient. Do you know why? It is being used to replace the flavor from fat with the flavor of sugar. A healthier option is to simply buy regular variety and eat less.
So let’s talk fat. Fats are a necessary part of our diets. Unsaturated fats, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can help lower your bad cholesterol levels while helping to maintain an appropriate level of good cholesterol. However, there are some that are unhealthy and should be avoided. These include saturated and trans fats. It is important that you know the foods that contain these bad fats in order to decrease your consumption of them.
Saturated fats promote high levels of LDL cholesterol, which is the bad form of cholesterol. If eaten without moderation, these substances can increase your risk of heart disease as well as high blood pressure. Saturated fats tend to be found in meats, eggs, and dairy products. Cooking additives such as coconut and palm oils also contain saturated fats. You can limit your intake of these bad fats by consuming lean meats and low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt (or buy the regular variety and eat less).
Trans fats are created when food companies began the process of hydrogenation. This procedure helps to preserve foods, allowing them to have a longer shelf life. Packaged foods tend to contain a great deal of trans fatty acids, as they are well hydrogenated before being sold. Shortening and some oils also contain trans fats. To eliminate these unhealthy fats from your diet, seek foods with labels specifying that they are free of trans fats. Avoid eating too many processed foods, and cook with fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits instead. Cooking with olive oil is also beneficial, as it does not possess any unhealthy fatty acids.
With just a little pre-planning, some simple label reading, and this knowledge you can create healthy meals for you and your family with the right kinds of fat and the right kind of flavor.