What Are Good and Bad Fats?

Your body needs fat to function normally. So it isn���t a good idea to cut fat entirely from your diet. But if you get too much of the wrong kind of fat, you raise your risk of heart disease, obesity and certain kinds of cancers. In many instances, you can replace the bad fat with good fat.

Monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs, are one type of fat that works wonders. MUFAs improve your cardiovascular health because they are rich in HDL cholesterol. This kind of cholesterol is actually good for you because it hunts down and removes LDL cholesterol, which collects along your artery walls. LDL cholesterol is responsible for causing blockages in your bloodstream that can lead to heart attacks. The American Heart Association suggests getting MUFAs in vegetable oils (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil and so on), avocados, peanut butter, seeds and nuts. Nutrition experts also report that MUFAs help expedite weight loss by targeting body fat.

Polyunsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats, or PUFAs, are also great for you. They lower LDL cholesterol, warding off your chance of heart disease. PUFAs are a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids. These help the metabolism function properly, reduce inflammation, decrease joint pain and may even help lower depression. The Mayo Clinic reports that PUFAs decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. You can get your share of PUFAs from mackerel, herring, salmon, fish oil, corn and safflower oil, nuts and seeds.

Trans fats
Now, we move onto the bad fats. Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that increases your chances of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It does the opposite of the previously described good fats by increasing LDL cholesterol and lowering HDL cholesterol. Most trans fats are not natural and were actually invented to increase the shelf life of foods. They are inexpensive and easy to use. According to the American Heart Association, before 1990, very little was known about the negative effects of trans fat so not many people took a stand against trans fat specifically. Trans fats are in fried food like French fries and doughnuts, as well as pastries, pizza, cookies and stick margarine.

Saturated fats
Just like trans fat, saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol. If you eat too many saturated fats your blood cholesterol will rise, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats come primarily from animal products, such as meat, dairy and eggs. You should avoid or limit lard, cream, fatty beef, lamb and cheese. You should monitor your intake of saturated fats as they adversely affect your health.