Facts About Good Fat
By Natalia Martinez, RD LD
The ideal bariatric diet should be low in high fat foods. However, fats have many functions in the body, most importantly they provide energy. For instance, natural oils in the skin provide a radiant complexion. In the scalp, fats help make your hair nourished and glossy. The layer of fat beneath the skin insulates the body from extreme temperatures. A pad of hard fat beneath each kidney protects it from being jarred and damaged.
The diverse and vital functions that lipids (fats) play in the body reveal why eating too little fat can be harmful. But, it is important to be able to distinguish between the different types of fats. To understand both the beneficial and harmful effects that fats exert on the body, we must look closer at the function of the entire lipid family.
Fats are divided into three groups, based on the main type of fat they contain:
Unsaturated fats (monosaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3) are derived primarily from vegetables and are liquid at room temperature. These fats have positive health benefits.
Saturated fats may contribute to heart disease. They can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and should be limited to small amounts in your diet. Saturated fats are primarily solid at room temperature.
Major sources of saturated fats include:
Trans fats are made during the process that changes vegetable oils into semi-solid fats. These fats can raise blood cholesterol levels and should be consumed in small amounts. Partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated fats are types of man-made trans fats and should be avoided. Trans fats are also found in some animal products such as meat, cheese, butter, and dairy products.
Major sources of trans fats include: