All fats are not created equal, there are good ones, there are bad ones, and some are just plain ugly. The three main types of fat are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and they all perform necessary functions in the body. There is another type of fat called “trans-fat” which is the “ugly” one. Trans-fat is a man-made fat that prolongs the shelf-life of processed foods, and is an absolute disaster for your health and should be avoided at all costs. Any product that lists any type of partially hydrogenated oil on the food label contains trans-fat. Never eat this stuff!

Saturated fats can be good or bad and are found in animal products and some plant oils such as coconut and palm. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. These fats are not essential because they can be synthesized by your body from other types of fat. Saturated fats are a good choice for cooking, because the chemical structure of the fat is stable and is not negatively altered by the cooking process. Among the healthiest of the saturated fats is coconut oil. Coconut oil contains short and medium chain fatty acids which have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Coconut oil has also been shown to increase the rate of fat burning in the body. This is because the shorter chain fatty acids in coconut oil act as kindling to help burn up longer chain fats that are stored in the body.

Monounsaturated fats tend to be liquid at room temperature and are commonly found in olive oil. Although olive oil is a popular choice for cooking, it is much healthier to consume monounsaturated fats that have not been exposed to high heat. Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil are ideal for salads and dipping sauces. If used for cooking, they should be introduced as late as possible in the cooking process.

Polyunsaturated fats are primarily found in vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, fish and poultry. Essential Fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that humans need to consume from their diets because they have limited ability to be synthesized in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are the most important of the polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3s are found in fish, borage, primrose, flax and black currant oils just to name a few. It is important to always eat these fats raw. Heating these oils destroys the chemical structure and renders them toxic to your body. For more information on the dos and dont’s of eating fats call Integrated Health Systems to schedule a consult with Dr. Vaughn.

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Dr Lindy Vaughn

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