Good Fat, Bad Fat
Health FHC FMC
Mike Parker

Fat-free cookies. Fat-free potato chips. Fat-free peanut butter. Fat-free milk (which is another name for water, but I digress. Yeesh! Fat has gotten a bad rap. You’d think all the health problems in the world could be traced back to fat. But the truth is, we need more than a little fat in our diet. How much? Between 20 and 35 percent of your daily intake of calories should be from fat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Fats supply the energy we need to function. They serve as a carrier for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and carotenoids. Fats are a major player in regulating a variety of biological functions and serve as building blocks for cell membranes. Conversely, a diet low in fat can increase your risk for inadequate intake of vitamin E and of essential fatty acids, which could trigger unfavorable changes in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

Of course, that’s not a license to eat ice cream out of the carton with a tablespoon, but it should give you a little breathing room when it comes to your diet. The key is choosing good fats over bad fats. Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are considered more heart-healthy “good” fats. You’ll find them in such foods as nuts, avocados, salmon, peanut butter, tofu and certain vegetable oils. Saturated fat and trans fat are potentially harmful to your heart and are considered “bad” fats. A rule of thumb is that foods that contain these types of fats are typically solid at room temperature. You’ll find them in such foods as shortening, tropical oils, dark chicken meat, poultry skin, and many processed snack foods.

So, don’t be afraid to include a little fat in your diet. Just remember the advice the Grail Knight gave to Indiana Jones; “Choose. But choose wisely.”
 

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