There have been a number of studies touting the health benefits or warnings of fatty foods. While it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes fat, it’s also important to include the fats that are most beneficial to your body.
There are two types of naturally occurring fats – saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats consist of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; these are beneficial in reducing your risk for heart disease and they contribute to your overall health. Saturated fats have taken the brunt of the criticism when it comes to fats. While they can be less healthy, eating the right saturated fats in small amounts can positively impact your overall health.
If you’re one of the people who restricts beef in your diet because you’ve heard red meat is high in saturated fat, you’re not alone. It’s an over-hyped, but incorrect, statement and it’s keeping you from enjoying some heart-healthy meals. Adding beef to your diet will give your body the nutrition it needs while lowering cholesterol levels when it’s part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. A 3 ounce serving of beef provides half of your daily protein and 10 essential nutrients, all in about 150 calories.
Not all beef is created equal. When selecting your next steak, roast, or package of ground beef, be sure to choose lean cuts of beef. Lean cuts pack all the healthy benefits of beef while reducing fat intake.
Nearly half of the fat in beef is oleic acid, a heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat that’s found in olive oil. And most of the saturated fat in beef reduces your risk of heart disease by lowering your LDL cholesterol – the bad kind – or reducing your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol – the good kind. Not only does oleic acid contribute to your overall health, it’s also a key reason beef has a mouthwatering taste that’s hard to resist.
Get the Skinny on Fat
Found in animal products, such as meat, eggs, and high-fat dairy products, saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends just 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat.
Trans Fatty Acids
Trans fatty acids are an artificial fat created in an industrial process. Vegetable oil transforms into a solid at room temperature by adding hydrogen. Many of the processed foods we eat contain partially hydrogenated oil. It is directly responsible for increasing your risk of heart disease because it raises LDL – bad cholesterol – while lowering HDL – good cholesterol.
Found mostly in vegetable oils, polyunsaturated fats offer the most benefit when substituted for saturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flax seed, and walnuts.
Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and solidify when refrigerated. This category includes include olive oil and oleic acid, also known as omega-9 fatty acid. You can find monounsaturated fats in a variety of foods, including olives, avocados, almonds, and canola oil.