Good fats from bad fats in our diet

Published 3:07 pm Friday, October 7, 2011

With so many folks trying to get healthier, and in better shape these days, there seems to be a lot of talk about diet and nutrition.
One of the most popular subjects that comes up is fats. With this also comes much confusion. I’m going to try and help you with that today.
Three common fats in our diets are polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated. polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and when refrigerated. They’re the best for you, because they not only help lower blood cholesterol levels they also don’t tend to clog  arteries. Sources of these fats are safflower,  sunflower, and fish oils. In fact, fish oil has to be polyunsaturated or a cold water fish’s blood wouldn’t flow.
Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperatures, and semi-solid when refrigerated. They are not as good for you as polyunsaturated fats, but better than saturated fats. Saturated fats are the worst, because they solid at both room and refrigerated temperatures.
Remember, if a fat is solid at both temperatures, it will stay solid in your blood stream. These fats come from foods like beef, butter, lamb, cheese, veal and poultry fat. Saturated fat is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol. Even though saturated fats are bad for you, there is one fat even worse…trans fats.
Trans fats can be natural or man made. Small amounts occur naturally in beef, and in dairy foods. Man made trans fats occur when hydrogen gas reacts with oils. These are called hydrogenated oils. When hydrogen and pressure are added to oils, the result is a stiffer fat, much like canned shortening.
These “stiff” fats can, over time, clog the arteries that feed your heart and brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Trans fats can be found in fast foods, cookies, potato chips, margarine, crackers and microwave popcorn.
The reason manufacturers use hydrogenated oils, is that they are inexpensive to manufacture, and they give food a much longer shelf life.
Another negative affect of trans fats is that not only do they raise total blood cholesterol levels, they also deplete HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which help protect against heart disease. In fact, according to a comprehensive Nurse’s Health Study, the largest investigation of women and chronic disease, found that trans fats doubled the risk of heart disease in women.
My advice is to be a smart shopper. Read the nutrition facts panel on the foods you buy. It will list the amounts, and types of fat.
Try to limit saturated fats in your diet.
Use oils like safflower, sunflower, and olive oils. Also, add more fruits, vegetables, chicken and beans to your diet.
Remember, commercial oils and shortenings are made by hydrogenation, and contain saturated and trans fats. For this reason I suggest you limit the times you eat out, especially at fast food restaurants.
I recommend you cook more of your meals. This way you can better control what goes into your dishes. Using these tips will help you clean that diet up.

Diet or fitness question? Email me at Or visit
David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist for 24 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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