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Balancing the Fat in Your Diet

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthily, you might be wary of fat — and for good reason. Some types of fat pose a serious health threat to your body. But as the Harvard School of Medicine puts it, “Fat is an important part of a healthy diet.”

As nutrition and weight loss specialists, Rel L. Gray, MD, and our team are here to help you understand the difference between good and bad fats so you can balance your diet. At our office in Ruston, Louisiana, we’re here to answer any questions you may have. 

To get started, let’s take a quick look at the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats. 

Good fat vs. bad fat

If you think a low-fat diet is the key to health, think again. Your body relies on fat for fuel and uses fat for key functions, like absorbing certain vitamins into your bloodstream. 

In other words, you need some fat. It just comes down to knowing the difference between fats so you can choose the healthful ones while avoiding the worst of them. 

Here are the four main types of fat:

Polyunsaturated fat

This is the fat your body needs. It lowers your bad cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and your risk for heart disease.

You may have heard of one type of healthy fat: omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats. You can find omega-3s in most fatty fish — like salmon and trout — as well as in walnuts, canola oil, and other plant-based sources.  

Monounsaturated fat

Regularly getting this type of fat from your diet can help you fend off bad cholesterol, in turn keeping your heart healthy and avoiding a stroke. You can get monounsaturated fats from things like:

Saturated fats

While saturated fat can cause an increase in cholesterol levels, it’s generally safe to consume in small quantities. Most saturated fats we eat come from animal fats, whether that’s the fat on a cut of meat or the fat in a dairy product.

Coconut oil and lard are also saturated fats.

Trans fats

Trans fatty acids — or trans fats, for short — come from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. You can find these in:

Not only do trans fats increase your levels of bad cholesterol, they decrease your levels of good cholesterol. And high levels of bad cholesterol can lead to heart attack and stroke.

To keep the blood flowing through your veins without cholesterol in the way, it’s important to steer clear of trans fats and minimize your intake of saturated fats. But don’t avoid all fats in your quest for health. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats do your body a lot of good. 

If you’re ready to learn more about the right nutrition for your body, call our Ruston, Louisiana, office at 318-251-1000 or request an appointment online today. Or, if you want to ask a question, feel free to send a message to Dr. Gray and the team on our website.

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