It’s possible to control your weight by cutting back on fat. But not all fats are bad for you.
Some types of fat can help your heart and lower cholesterol—two important benefits for people with metabolic syndrome. As you set out to eat less fat, here’s how to tell the difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly fats.
The good fat
Monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy fats found in certain vegetable oils, especially canola, olive, and peanut oils.
Polyunsaturated fats are also found in vegetable oils, including canola, corn, and safflower oils, as well as seafood. The body needs polyunsaturated fats to make cell membranes and hormones. Eating omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, found in flaxseed and in salmon, tuna, and mackerel, may help prevent heart disease and inflammation. In addition, fish oil supplements may be beneficial for some people. Talk with your health care provider to see if they’re a good option for you.
Most of the fat in your diet should come from these two types of fat. When used in place of saturated fat, they can help lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
The bad fat
Saturated fat is found mainly in animal foods such as meat, butter, cheese, and whole and low-fat milk and other dairy products. Coconut and palm oils also contain saturated fat. This fat is solid at room temperature. Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and increases the risk for heart disease.
The ugly fat
When vegetable oils are hydrogenated, trans fat is created. This type of fat raises blood cholesterol—perhaps more so than saturated fat. Check labels and avoid foods containing vegetable shortening or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.