GOOD FATS, BAD FATS, AND THE POWER OF OMEGA-3 FATS
For years, nutritionists and doctors have preached the benefits of a low-fat diet. We’ve been told that reducing the amount of fat we eat is the key to losing weight, managing cholesterol, and preventing health problems. But when it comes to your mental and physical health, simply “cutting the fat” just doesn’t cut it.
Research shows that, more than the total amount of fat in your diet, it’s the types of fat you eat that really matter. Bad fats increase your cholesterol and your risk of certain diseases, while good fats have the opposite effect, protecting your heart and supporting overall health. In fact, good fats—such as omega-3 fats—are absolutely essential not only to your physical health but your emotional well-being.
Making sense of dietary fat
A walk down the grocery aisle will confirm our obsession with low-fat foods. We’re bombarded with supposedly guilt-free options: baked potato chips, fat-free ice cream, low-fat candies, cookies, and cakes. But while our low-fat options have exploded, so have obesity rates. Clearly, low-fat foods and diets haven’t delivered on their trim, healthy promises.
Despite what you may have been told, fat isn’t always the bad guy in the waistline wars. Bad fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for—weight gain, clogged arteries, and so forth. But good fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s have the opposite effect.
As a matter of fact, healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.
The answer isn’t cutting out the fat—it’s learning to make healthy choices and to replace bad fats with good ones that promote health and well-being
Myths and facts about fats
Myth: All fats are equal—and equally bad for you.
Fact: Saturated fats and trans fats are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.
Myth: Lowering the amount of fat you eat is what matters the most.
Fact: The mix of fats that you eat, rather than the total amount in your diet, is what matters most when it comes to your cholesterol and health. The key is to eat more good fats and less bad fats.
Myth: Fat-free means healthy.
Fact: A “fat-free” label doesn’t mean you can eat all you want without consequences to your waistline. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.
Myth: Eating a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss.
Fact: The obesity rates for Americans have doubled in the last 20 years, coinciding with the low-fat revolution. Cutting calories is the key to weight loss, and since fats are filling, they can help curb overeating.