Fat Facts: Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
The right fats are actually good for you.
The Facts on Unhealthy Saturated Fat continued...
Saturated fat is concentrated in fatty meats, and full-fat dairy foods
including cheese, ice cream, and whole milk. Animal foods supply most saturated
fat in our diet. But highly saturated vegetable fats such as coconut oil, palm,
palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter are also unhealthy. They're widely used in
packaged foods including milk chocolate, cookies, crackers, and snack
There's no dietary requirement for saturated fat because your body produces
all that it needs. Yet, there's no need to completely avoid foods with
saturated fat in the name of good health. Foods such as meat, cheese, and
milk pack a multitude of nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Just try to keep saturated fat to less than 7% of all the fat you eat.
The Facts on Trans Fat: A Bad Fat in a League of Its Own
Like saturated fat, trans fat contributes to clogged arteries. Even worse,
it's been linked to certain cancers, including breast and colorectal, in
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health have estimated that
eliminating trans fats from the American diet could prevent about a quarter of
a million heart attacks and related deaths every year.
Trace amounts of naturally-occurring trans fat are present in fatty meats
and full-fat dairy foods. But, by far, most of the trans fat we eat is
the end product of hydrogenation. Hydrogenation (the addition of hydrogen)
converts oil into a firmer, tastier product with a longer shelf life. In the
process, some of the unsaturated fat in the oil becomes saturated.
Partially hydrogenated fat -- trans fat -- is gradually being removed from
most packaged foods. But it's still found in some stick margarine, shortening,
fast food, cookies, crackers, granola bars, and microwave popcorn.
There is no dietary requirement for trans fat, although it's nearly
impossible to completely avoid. It helps to read nutrition food labels,
but there's a hitch.
"Even when the food label lists the trans fat content of a processed
food as zero, a serving may contain up to nearly half a gram of trans fat by
law," says Karmally.
Small amounts of some "trans-fat-free" foods can really add
up. For example, a box of cookies labeled "0 trans fats" could
actually have half a gram per serving. Thus four cookies could contain close to
2 grams of trans fat -- the upper limit suggested for many adults.
3 Easy Ways to Avoid Bad Fats
Here are three simple ways to avoid bad fats, including trans fat:
1. Avoid packaged foods when possible.
Instead, choose whole foods, or foods you make at home. For example, you can
make your own macaroni and cheese from scratch, or your own flavored rice
2. Eat lean sources of protein, low-fat
dairy foods, whole grains, legumes -- such as garbanzo beans and black beans --
and fruits and vegetables.
3. Use healthy oils such as olive,
canola, and sunflower oil, and small amounts of tub margarine for cooking and
"It takes more than counting fat grams to protect your health,"