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Fatty Foods Fallacies

by TJ Davis April 30th, 2010 | Diet, Heart Health
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With the perpetual quest for quick-fix weight loss, consumers are sometimes led to believe that a broadly generalized “fact” is gospel. It happened with carbohydrates. Research that indicated certain carbohydrates actually could be harmful to the body was translated by some as ALL carbs are bad. The nutritional deficiencies created by the low-carb/no-carb craze that ensued put many dieters’ health at greater risk than their weight had.

Similarly, it seems that fat in foods also received a bum rap. The body actually needs a certain amount of fat to properly maintain healthy skin and body cell production. The trick is consuming the right types of fats. Generally speaking, there are four basic kinds of food fat: trans, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fats and trans-fatty acids are the ones you want to reduce. These are the fats that can increase “bad” cholesterol and lead to greater risk of heart disease.

The “un” fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated –are the ones that have been shown to help increase levels of “good” cholesterol, lowering coronary risk. Monounsaturated fats are touted as the most beneficial of all the fats, even thought to help protect against some types of cancer. Certain polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower blood pressure and help prevent coronary heart disease.

Some healthy-fat foods containing monounsaturated fats are olive and peanut oils, nuts and avocados. And good news for chocolate lovers: chocolate with 65% or more cocoa contains antioxidants that help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Additionally, dark chocolate contains the natural anti-depressant serotonin and helps increase production of the feel-good brain chemicals, endorphins.

Beneficial polyunsaturated fats include salmon and mackerel, flax seed and walnuts. These all contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Without healthy levels of these omega-3 fatty acids, your risk for heart disease could triple.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.