Not all fat is bad for you, and at first glimpse, one can get lost in the word “Fat” that appears multiple times on a food label. The terms and percentages of saturated, monounsaturated, and unsaturated fat all blend together. To be honest who is familiar with all the scientific lingo? Here is the breakdown between the coined “good” fat versus the culprit of our love handles- the “bad” fat.
To start, the science behind the chemical composition is what makes the difference in the way the body processes it. Once you get the gist, you’ll be able to differentiate between the redeeming (and not so redeeming) qualities of both kinds of fat in every food we eat.
First we will tackle the bad guy- Saturated Fat. This is the culprit behind high levels of cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure. Why you may ask? The chemical composition is solid at room temperature, and technically speaking is saturated or “fully loaded” with single Hydrogen bonds and lengths of the Carbon chain. This may seem unimportant and scientific, but get the general idea for the sake of our thighs. Foods high in this kind of fat are tropical oils and animal products with high fat levels like whole milk dairy products and lard. Its biggest responsibility is to make desserts taste GOOD. Don’t be fooled though, some main course foods can have hidden saturated fats, like cheese, beef, and pork. As well, anything cooked with butter has high levels of saturated fat. All fruits, vegetables, and grains are saturated fat free, unless intentionally added during cooking.
Now onto the fats we like to consume- Unsaturated Fat. Take away two Hydrogens and a single double bond, and wa-la! we have created the “good” fat. Unlike saturated fats, this element actually reduces the risk of heart diseases, cleans our pores, and strengthens the heart vessels. They come in two forms: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, the prefix referring to the number of bonds. Don’t get caught up in the scientific jargon; stick with the basics. In this case, the “un” should clue you into eating a healthy fat that you should “UNjoy.” Typically they come in liquid form from avocadoes, various nuts, and vegetable or canola oil.
Our favorite type of unsaturated fat? Omega 3- fatty acid. This is the element that has gotten a lot of hype lately due to the fantastic health benefits that can be gained from consuming it. New research has proved that Omega 3 can prevent blood clots, stabilize heartbeat, and decrease blood pressure. It can be found in various vegetable oils, walnuts, yet it’s most popular hangout is salmon.
Just remember, not all fat is necessarily bad for you. In fact, eating chocolate cake never tasted so good!
By Nikki Pepperman, inspired by Melissa Schall