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Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fat: What's the Difference?

I've heard people talk about "good fats" and "bad fats" many times. They often interchange these two different terms indiscriminately. Undeniably, fats have been through a lot of bad publicity for many people. Even a mention of the word could bring about misery. You may want to lose fat from your body but still your system needs it. Fats play a major role in insulating nerve cells, maintaining our hormonal levels, warming the body, lubricating joints and keeping arteries and skin supple. The key point here is learning to identify which fats are essential and which type is to be avoided. With the right information, you can try to focus on eating more of the good fats and moderate on the bad fats in your everyday diet.

Saturated Fats: Know your Enemy
Also known as the "bad fats," saturated fats increase the total LDL and blood cholesterol levels in the body. When consumed in high amounts, these fats are believed to accumulate in arteries and then later on result to heart diseases. Saturated fats tend to bond together in the bloodstream. As they stick together, they form plaques that deposit in arteries and then slowly clog them, resulting to a poor circulation. It would be easy to identify the bad fats inside the kitchen because they tend to stay hard at room temperatures. Saturated fats can be found in many animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy and seafood. Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil also contain a high level of saturated fats. This kind of fat is usually incorporated in many pre-packaged foods because they don't tend to spoil quickly. You really don't need to completely avoid saturated fats, unless your physician advised you to do so. But if you are a person concerned about clogging your arteries, then you might want to start lowering your intake of saturated fats as much as possible.

Unsaturated Fats: Say hello to the "Good Fats"
Unsaturated fats are the "good and healthy fats" that you may have heard about. They are liquid at normal room temperatures. The good fats are divided into 2 major groups namely monounsaturated fats and the polyunsaturated fats. Common sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, almonds, pistachios, avocado and walnuts. Polyunsaturated fats can be commonly found in fish oils and also in corn, sunflower and soy oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are part of polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats can help lowering down cholesterol levels in the body and as well as maintain a healthy heart.

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes
As much as possible, avoid the use of cooking oils with very high saturated or trans fat contents like palm oil, vegetable shortening and coconut oil. Try to use olive oil, canola oil or flax seed oil whenever you are cooking. Read the labels of commercially packaged foods and try to look for "trans fat free" alternatives. You may also start using low fat dairy products such as skim milk and soy milk. Get rid of the skin and visible fats when preparing meat products.

Charmaine Ann Enerio is a registered nurse and a freelance writer in Manila, Philippines. Currently, she specializes in neonatal intensive care and in health & wellness. As an advocate of women's health, Charmaine is planning on pursuing a degree in midwifery that would focus more on helping women before, during and after their pregnancies. Writing has always been her passion and has been an editor ever since her high school years. A good thing about Charmaine is the way she balances her career as a health care professional and as a writer. Nursing has given her the chance to serve her fellow countrymen and also write about her various experiences. As a medical professional, she focuses more on holistic and patient centered care. Charmaine is blessed with a wonderful family and a loving fiancé. Check out her blog site at troika1987.wordpress.com.

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