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Q: What is the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats?

Posted July 03, 2013 in Advice Column, Johnston

A: Fat is an essential nutrient that has numerous functions within the human body and is vital to human growth and development. It is important to understand the differences between what is considered a “good fat” and a “bad fat” in order to reap the benefits they have to offer.

On the nutrition label under total fat, there are four possible different fats listed: saturated fat, trans fat, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Saturated fat is naturally found in animal products while trans fats are often added to products to lengthen shelf life (cookies, crackers). These two fats are considered “bad fats” and are solid at room temperature. This is why it is important to choose lean meat sources such as lean beef, pork, chicken  and fish.

The polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are those considered “good fats” because of the numerous positive health effects that they have including regulating cholesterol. And yes, it breaks down even further; omega-3 and omega-6s are polyunsaturated fats while omega-9s are monounsaturated fats. These fats are liquid at room temperature and found in oils, nuts, fatty fish, avocados, eggs and some dairy. So even though fats have a bad reputation, they’re a vital component in our diets since our body do not make enough of the “good fats” to support its needs.

Information provided by Missy Anker, Registered Dietitian, Hy-Vee, 5750 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, 270-9045.

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