It was once widely believed that a low cholesterol, low fat diet was what we needed to stay healthy and trim. Unfortunately, lumping all types of fat together and calling them bad was a mistake.
There are actually “good fats” that will help your body improve cholesterol levels, while the “bad fats” that are linked to obesity and heart disease are the ones to avoid. The key is to understand which fats will help you and which won’t.
Bad fats – there are two that you should try to avoid known as trans-fats and saturated fat. Trans fats are created through a process known as hydrogenation where oil is heated in the presence of oxygen. This process is desirable for manufactures because it extends the shelf life of their products.
Unfortunately for you it increases the amount of bad cholesterol or LDL in the blood stream and lowers the levels of good cholesterol or HDL. When reading labels look in the ingredients list for hydrogenated or partial-hydrogenated oils as an ingredient then avoid those products.
Saturated fats are very common and are found in poultry skin, whole-milk products, coconut oil and egg yolks in large amounts. The problem with this type of fat is that it raises both the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels in the body.
Polyunsaturated fats will improve cholesterol levels. These are found in soybean, sunflower and corn oils. These contain Omega-6, an essential fatty acid.
Monounsaturated fats are another type that will decrease the bad cholesterol while increasing the good. You can find this type in peanut, olive and canola oils.
Keep in mind, just because a fat is good for you, it is still fat and should only be eaten in moderation. There are two types of diets that will help keep fats in check.
Moderate Fat Diet – some well known programs that fall into this category are Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. These diets are divided into 60% carbohydrates, 30% fats and 15% protein. Dieters are encouraged to eat a variety of foods within these guidelines.
Weight Watchers, for example, uses a point system to help the dieter track their progress and make the right food choices. Properly following this type of diet has a proven success rate.
Low or Very Low-Fat diets – This type of diet would limit fat to 13% with protein at 16% and 70% carbohydrates. Some programs that work on this principle are Dr. Dean Ornish’s Diet and the Prikin Plan.
Most plans of this type are vegetarian type plans where meat is not very limited. These type of low fat diet tends to be very restrictive, thus proving difficult for most people to maintain long term.