What Are Trans Fats?

Trans fats are being phased out of the American food supply but, in the meantime, avoid foods that contains trans fat, such as:  Coffee Creamer, Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, and other baked goods, Fast food, Frozen Pizza, Ready-to-use frossting, Refrigerated dough products such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls.

Trans fats are structurally different from ordinary saturated fat. 

What Are Saturated Fats?

Saturated fats are primarily found in animal products like meat and dairy, but there a few plant-based sources such as palm kernel oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter (chocolate fat). These fats are solid at room temperature. Although coconut oil and cocoa butter have redeeming qualities, saturated fat from animal products should be avoided as it can raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk heart disease and stroke. 

Chocolate is unique in that most of its saturated fat comes from stearic acid, which is a fatty acid that actually reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you do choose to include it in your diet, make sure the only fat in the ingredients is cocoa butter or stearic acid. Lower-quality chocolate usually includes milk fat or other saturated fats.

What Are Unsaturated Fats?

Unsaturated fats are often described as healthy fats because they have the opposite effect of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.Consumption of these fats can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Unsaturated fats are concentrated in the oils naturally found in fish, nuts, seeds, and some fatty fruits. They can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

 

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Monounsaturated fatty acids are often promoted as “heart healthy” because they lower LDL cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke. The greatest concentrations are found in olive, sunflower, and safflower oil, as well as avocados and most nuts. The oils found in these sources also provide vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, also referred to as PUFAs, are the predominant fats in fish (such as salmon), vegetable oils, and some nuts and seeds. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated and cannot be synthesized by the body.