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Good Fats and Bad Fats

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Nutrition
All of us have probably heard that too much fat in our diets is bad for our health. However, not all fats are bad. In fact, some fat is actually good for us and is required by our body for proper function. Some of the uses that fat has in our body include:

1) Helps our body in the production of hormones

2) Insulates and cushions our body and internal organs

3) Keeps our skin and hair healthy

3) Regulates our blood pressure

4) Helps to improve brain function - especially in children

5) Provides us with energy

6) Lowers bad cholesterol levels

7) Alleviate symptoms of PMS and Menopause

8) Lowers our risk against heart disease and other cancers

9) Helps to transport certain vitamins through our bloodstream

Understanding the differences between fats, therefore, can be helpful to understand whether the fat content in a particular food will be helpful to you or harmful.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are a rich source of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids which we need but can't be made by our bodies. These fats help to lower bad cholesterol levels, ease symptoms of PMS and aid in motor coordination. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in sunflower oil, safflower oil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds.

Monounsaturated Fats

Like polyunsaturated fats, it is thought that monounsaturated oils also assist in the lowering of bad cholesterol levels. Additionally, a diet rich in monounsaturated fats have been associated with lower risks of cancer and increased longevity. Some foods that are rich in monounsaturated oils include: olive oil, Angola oil, sesame oil, avocados, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, humus, mackerel, and lean meat.

Saturated Fats

A diet high is saturated fats have been proven to raise the levels of bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity. These fats have been found in large quantities in such foods as: cheese, lard, cakes, chocolate, pies, pastry, cookies and meat.

Trans Fat

As bad as saturated fats are for our health, Trans fats are even worse. Trans fats are nothing more than saturated fats that have been chemically modified in the food manufacturing process. And not only do they increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the body but they also lower the good cholesterol levels as well. There is also a link between Trans fats and various forms of cancer and heart disease. Trans fat is sometimes listed on the food label; however is mostly found in margarine, cookies, cakes, puddings, fried foods, chocolate bars and in many fast foods.