The Truth About Fats
Not all fats are equal. Learn which ones actually boost your health!
Making the Switch continued...
The solidifying process - called hydrogenation - extends the shelf life of
food, but it also turns polyunsaturated oils into a kind of man-made
cholesterol. Trans fats can increase your level of "bad" LDL
cholesterol, and may increase your risk of heart disease. What's more, these
man-made fats are taken up by the body much easier than are omega-3s. So trans
fatty acids not only harm your health, they also block the absorption of
"How bad trans fats are for you depends on how much you eat," says
Kava. "Trans fats can raise your blood cholesterol as much as excess
cholesterol (from the diet) can in some people."
To avoid trans fats, look on the nutrition label of packaged foods. They'll
appear on the ingredients list as "hydrogenated" or "partially
hydrogenated" vegetable oils. If you can, switch to products that don't use
hydrogenated oils. The baked goods won't last quite as long in your pantry, but
your body will benefit.
Now for the good news: There are some fatty snacks that actually boost your
Nuts are the latest high-fat food to undergo a change in dietary
"It doesn't seem to matter what nuts you eat to get important benefits,
as long as they don't have added oil and salt," says Kendall.
The latest pro-nut research is out of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Researchers found that women who reported eating a half serving of peanut
butter or a full serving of nuts five or more times a week showed as much as a
30% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And the findings go on.
Other nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and pecans, have been shown to have
heart healthy benefits, including lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol.
(Remember, walnuts are also a source of omega-3.)
Nuts to Avoid
There really aren't any unhealthy nuts, as long as you leave out the oil and
salt. But it's important to remember that all nuts are high in calories.
"You can't just add them to your diet," says Kendall. "You
really need to think about using them to replace empty calories. Think about
them as excellent substitutes for junk food."