People hear the word “fat,” and assume it’s a bad thing. This is a common mistake, but an important one. There are good fats, and bad fats.
The good fats are monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated: these help your heart and lower cholesterol. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include healthy oils, like vegetable, olive, sunflower, and non-GMO canola oil, and nuts, especially almond and hazelnuts. Let’s not forget avocado – it has a high amount of monounsaturated fats; so don’t feel guilty chowing down on guacamole!
The other “good fats” are polyunsaturated; these are namely found in nuts, seeds, and lean fish like tuna and salmon. Walnuts and peanuts are great for your polyunsaturated fat intake, as well as sunflower, sesame, and chia seeds.
The fats to avoid are saturated and trans fats. These “bad” fats increase your cholesterol because at room temperature, they are usually solid, like margarine or shortening, which means that in your arteries, they harden to block pathways from your heart. Scary, right? Foods heavy in saturated fats tend to be the more obvious foods that we know to avoid: lard, animal fats like tallow, cream, cheeses, butter, those kinds of things. They also find their way into palm and coconut oil, sardines, sausage, pate, and chocolate.
Trans fats are a little easier to single out, because they tend to occur most in packaged foods. High amounts of trans fats are found in food meant to stay good for a long time: margarine, shortening, cake mix, Ramen and microwave soups, commercialized baked goods like vending machine donuts, chips, crackers… the list goes on. Fast foods are also heavy in bad fats; all of those burgers and fries we crave are usually packed with trans fats.
Simple ways to reduce your bad fats are to trim down on the dairy and fried foods. Aim for olive oil instead of butter. Avoid foods filled with preservatives; choose fresh ingredients. Try to eat more lean poultry and fish than red meat. When you do, however, it’s important that you make sure your beef is grass fed. We’re very passionate about this at Beetnik. We make sure all of our beef is grass fed because these meats have noticeably less saturated fats than those that are grain-fed, which can drastically improve the nutrients in your food, while lowering your chance for heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
To read more about today’s health issues, check out our series on nutrition.