Unsaturated fats versus saturated fats. The current health environment is focusing on the decline of our healthy behaviors made apparent by the ever rising overweight and obesity rates in the United States (currently sitting at 64% of our adult population). Many social media sources or magazines will blame fat, then we visit the grocery store and see ads for “fat free” or “reduced fat.” However, fat isn’t the enemy. There are two categories of fat found in most foods; 1) saturated fat and 2) unsaturated fat.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. We may all be familiar with the idea that saturated fat is the bad of the two; however, even saturated fat plays an important role in our bodies. The key is moderation. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that no more than 10% of your fats should come from saturated sources.
The USDA also recommends a maximum of 35% of your calories coming from fats.
So, what are good sources of fats?
The USDA recommends that your unsaturated fats come from sources such as: sunflower oil, olive oil, safflower oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. Unhealthy sources of fat may come from fried foods, greasy foods, red meat, shortenings, and corn oils.
The biggest take away on fats is that we should avoid trans fat as much as possible. Trans fat is an unhealthy source of fat that starts as an unsaturated fat but is transformed into a much less healthy form. Trans fats are more likely to contribute to heart disease and other medical conditions. Check the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list (look to avoid partially-hydrogenated oils) to see if the foods you eat contain trans fat.