Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 09-05-2014
One of the things we often hear from patients looking to lose weight is that they’re trying to eliminate fat from their diet completely. While this may seem to make intuitive sense, the fact is that we actually require some degree of fat in our diet in order to stay healthy. Of course, since some types of fat can lead to serious health issues, the key is recognizing the difference between “good” and “bad” fat. Here’s a quick overview. Essentially, there are three different types of fat, trans fat, saturated fat and unsaturated fat. Trans fat and saturated fat is not good for you and should be avoided, whereas unsaturated is the good stuff and should be a part of any healthy diet. Here’s why: TRANS FAT – NOT GOOD: Trans fat is a non-naturally occurring type of fat made from a chemical process that turns liquid oil into fat. It not only raises your “bad cholesterol” levels, it also lowers your “good cholesterol” levels. It’s the stuff that increases your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions and that you should look to eliminate from your diet as much as possible. SATURATED FAT – NOT GOOD: Saturated fat is found in many animal products, dairy products and things like lard, shortening and certain oils. However, while it is more natural than trans fat, it has also been shown to raise LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels which, in turn, raises your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions. For this reason, you should also try to reduce it, as much as possible, from your diet by doing things like choosing lower fat meat, dairy and other products. UNSATURATED FAT – GOOD (IN MODERATION): This brings us to unsaturated fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). This is what’s considered “good fat.” Unsaturated fat provides your body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are actually important for good health and therefore is an important part of any diet. Of course, just because unsaturated fat contains healthy elements doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still limit your intake. Eating a large amount of unsaturated fat likely means that you’re eating a lot of calories, which can lead to weight gain and other related issues. Eliminating trans fats and saturated fats while including reasonable amounts of unsaturated fats is an important part of any healthy diet (and a key component of any weight loss plan) so it’s important that, when grocery shopping, you make sure to read food labels carefully and stick to the perimeter of the store – this is generally where the healthier foods are!