Unsaturated Fatty Acids- Say What?! The good,the bad,and the ugly.

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I have been on this planet long enough to notice the different diet trends that become popular every few years. A while back, “fats” was a frowned-upon four letter word that people tried to avoid at all costs. We were told to eliminate fats from our diets as much as possible, but interestingly, our national struggle of weight gain and obesity continued- perhaps because we cut back on healthy fats, not just harmful ones. Today, we are more educated on the difference between bad fats and good fats- I call them “friendly fats”. We know what kind of foods are in each category. So now, I would like to talk to you about Unsaturated Fatty Acids, the good, the bad,and the ugly.

Unsaturated fats fall into two categories, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered to be more health beneficial than saturated fats or trans fats. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are fatty acids that are missing one hydrogen pair on their chain. They are associated with lowering LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol,and increasing the production of the “good” cholesterol, HDL cholesterol. These fats are usually liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are missing 2 or more hydrogen pairs on their fatty acid chains. They trigger lower blood/ serum cholesterol as well as lower LDL production. However, they have also been shown to lower HDL, “good” cholesterol production. These fats are usually liquid at room temperature. Foods with these source of fats are much better for our bodies than those with saturated fats and trans fats, but of course in a balanced manner.

And finally, enter super friendly Fats! Leptin is produced in your fat cells, so if you take out the fat, your body will hold on to every last pound in fear that soon all the fat will be gone. So what should you do? Give your body the fat it wants, but make sure this fat comes from good sources like fish, coconut, coconut oil, avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, and nuts, instead of deep fried food such as french fries. In simple terms, healthy eating is not about eliminating fats from your diet all together, but it is about choosing foods with a higher source of the”good”fats rather than the “bad” fats. You got this! I encourage you to Google more about foods that are sources of each type of fat and do not forget to check out my book Sima’s Healthy Indulgence for some wonderful charts to further explain this.

 

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