I have to level with you, the 80’s messed me up in A LOT of ways. I now have an aversion to blue eye shadow, a fear of “too big” hair, and a complete misunderstanding of dietary fats.

In the 80’s low-fat diet craze, we cut out most of our fats and replaced them with refined carbs and thought we were being “healthy”! Consequently, as the low-fat obsession continued, our nations obesity rates increased! Do YOU think that’s a coincidence?

Our bodies actually NEED Fat! Around 20% to 30% of our calories should come from healthy fat sources. Fats seem to be divided into 5 billion “categories of fats” which makes understanding them tough. When I would I attempt to understand them in the past, I would get overwhelmed, label them all as “bad,” and eat a low-fat cookie.

This was not helpful because AVOIDANCE NEVER SOLVES ANYTHING, LINDA!

It is SUPER important to find a way to categorize fats because BAD FATS can ruin your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases (including heart disease and some cancers); GOOD FATS have the ability to help protect your brain and heart!

And WHO doesn’t want to protect their brain and their heart?

Before we begin, I would just like to say that this blog is for YOU my 80’s loving, Sun-In, Coppertone tan, blue eye shadow, BIG hair generation. I am going to attempt the impossible…. to take a tedious topic and make it exciting (or at least not boring). Ready? Here we go……

Good Fats: Unsaturated Fats (Your new BFF)

Think of unsaturated fats as your BEST FRIENDS! When eaten in moderation they can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease!

This is especially true when they replace saturated or trans fats in your diet. I’ll explain those little jerks later…

Remember how I said there are 5 billion types of fats? I’m going to simplify it as much as I can. There are TWO types of Unsaturated Fats (the good guys): polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

These fats are found mostly in vegetable oils and they help lower blood cholesterol level and triglyceride levels. These are HEALTHY fats so you can add some of these to your diet! I will give you an list of foods to add to your grocery list in a little bit. But for now, I’d like to talk about the Princess of All Fats.  The ONE type of polyunsaturated fatty acids is the most special in all the land: Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3’s are different from the others. Your body can’t create this helpful type of fat so we must get it from food. This fat is a fundamental part of your cell membranes! It helps with blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of the artery walls, and inflammation, which, you can probably piece together, why it is such a rock star at helping reduce heart disease!

Monounsaturated Fats

These are very similar to the polyunsaturated fats described above. They differ from their polyunsaturated friends in that they have only one double bond in their molecular structure (mono, get it?). You know what? I don’t even care about that. There isn’t a big enough difference to matter and I hate chemistry. If anyone ever tries to confuse you by explaining poly- vs. monounsaturated fats just yell “I HATE CHEMISTRY” at them and run away. This with both scare and confuse them… and they probably won’t be such a know-it-all again in the future (its actually kind of a public service). Anyway, these fats are liquid at room temperature and are also a good source of antioxidant vitamin E.

Bottom Line: Add more of both types of unsaturated fats into your diet!

Here’s a quick list of healthy sources of fats

(Grab your grocery list and write a few of these down!):

  • Salmon (Omega-3)
  • Sardines (Omega-3; I have never tried these)
  • Flax seeds (Omega-3)
  • Walnuts
  • Natural Peanut Butter (ingredients are peanuts and salt… nothing else)
  • Olives
  • Avocados (there is a God)
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds (excellent on a salad)
  • Canola and Peanut Oil

Bad Fats (aka The Jerks)

There are two types of fat that should be eaten sparingly. These fats can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease. Lets go over the TWO types of BAD FATS….

Saturated fats

Actually, these fats are actually only kinda bad. The American Heart Association recommends limiting this type of fat because it can raise your bad cholesterol. These types of fats are found in animal products (meat, poultry skin, high-fat dairy, eggs) and vegetable fats that are liquid at room temp (coconut and palm oils).

Wait…what?!? Coconut oil?? I bet many of you are completely confused about this! Facebook and Pinterest are FULL of DIY coconut oil concoctions. Lately it seems as if everything on the planet could be healed or cured with this seemingly magical substance. Honestly, is there ANYONE who HASN’T tried bulletproof coffee yet??? Anyone..?

Taking a Closer Look at Coconut OilLets look closer at the mystery of coconut oil…

90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated fats, which make it one of the richest sources of saturated fats. Apparently coconut oil isn’t like the other saturated fats. It is SUPER SPECIAL and privileged. It contains medium-chain triglycerides that are metabolized differently than the other types of saturated fats. It zips from the digestive track directly to the liver so it can be used as a quick source of energy and has a GREAT affect on the BRAIN! Another benefit to coconut oil is that it appears to be helpful with weight reduction, specifically belly fat. (so reach down and grab your belly…I dare ya! ) THIS may be an excellent future blog topic, dontcha think?

Bottom Line: Be selective with your saturated fats and ADD coconut oil to your diet!

Here is a quick list of some sources of Saturated Fats:
  • Fatty beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Whole milk
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice Cream

Trans Fats/Trans fatty acids

DANGER, DANGER… these are the Biggest Jerks of all the Fats. They are categorized into two types with the artificial type as being the most unhealthy. Lets look at both of them…

  • Naturally Occurring: This type is found in super small amounts in dairy and meat. Not too much of a concern if you choose low-fat dairy and lean meats
  • Artificial/Partially hydrogenated: This type of fat is a BIG concern. Even a small amount can increase the risk of heart disease by INCREASING the bad cholesterol and decreasing the good. This fat is “created” (like Frankenstein) in a “lab” when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils. The biggest source of this fat in diets is called “partially hydrogenated oils”. Stay away from these creeps! These are the fats used significantly in frying, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers.. and, unfortunately, most convenient foods that taste really good.

Bottom Line: AVOID AVOID AVOID partially hydrogenated trans fats!! READ your labels, people and look for snacks without trans fat!

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I hope you learned something today. Is anyone still out there? Or was it too boring and everyone left? Let me know what you think by commenting below!