Fat is often regarded as a bad nutritional component; however, experts say people should not fully eliminate fat in their daily diet as not all types are harmful. Some may even pose health benefits so it is really a matter of choosing the right fat sources to incorporate in meals.
For individuals at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, it is very important to think about the types of fat consumed. According to the American Heart Association, the key is to understand which among the food choices can raise or lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL increases the likelihood of plaque formation in arteries, making them less flexible and eventually resulting in the blockage of blood flow to and from the heart.
The four main types of fats include trans fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. The latter are considered the "good" fats as it can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the body and actually enhance health if consumed in appropriate servings. Trans fats and saturated fats, on the other hand, are dubbed as the "bad" fats and tend to be in solid form while at room temperature.
Trans fats or trans fatty acids are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in the aim of making it more solid, hence it is also known as partially hydrogenated oils. Food sources of trans fats include fried and baked food such as pizza, pastries and cookies. In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended companies to indicate the trans fat content of their products in the Nutritional Facts panel. During the latter part of 2013, FDA announced that they are also looking at creating a policy that will order the total elimination of trans fats in processed food.
Saturated fats are those that come from animals such as beef, pork, lamb, poultry and dairy good that are comprised of two percent milk. Plants may also be a source of saturated fats; such products include coconut oil, coconut, cocoa butter and palm kernel oil. According to the American Heart Association, daily intake of saturated fats should only be limited to 5-6 percent of the total calories consumed.
While fats are essential to every person's daily diet, it is very important to know which should be taken in moderation. Lowering the amounts of trans fats and saturated fats may help decrease LDL cholesterol, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attack and other fatal cardiovascular diseases.
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