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What Are Healthy Fats - The Layman's Guide

What are healthy fats is a question more and more people are asking these days due to the realization that certain types of fats have been linked with heart and artery disease. In this article we will answer this question as to what are healthy fats and isolate the one fat that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Most food items (including our bag of chips) contain a number of types of fats, some good and some not so good. Good fats are those which have little or no impact on bad cholesterol and blood lipid levels. In fact, some healthy fats may even lower bad cholesterol levels when eaten in moderation. All healthy fats fall under the heading of unsaturated fats, and are broken down into two general categories; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

But occasionally in the world of research something unexpected and quite exciting is discovered that confounds even the most knowledgeable experts. And this was indeed the case with a form of polyunsaturated fat known as omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fatty acids are at the top of the list when it comes to asking what are healthy fats. They have been recognized as heart healthy by numerous noteworthy organizations including the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association. Additionally, ongoing research is finding that their health benefits goes far beyond that of cardiovascular disease and may include as many as 60 conditions and illnesses including arthritis, mental health disorders, and cellular disorders such as cancer.

But there is a problem

The problem is that while monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are found in abundance many different types of dietary delights (olive oil, avocados, soy, corn oil, and nuts and seeds) omega 3 fatty acids are only found in abundance in cold water fatty fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring).

Some will argue that ample amounts of our polyunsaturated fat cardiovascular superstar can be acquired from flax, flax oil, and walnuts high in the omega 3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid (ALA). While there is some truth in this the fact of the matter is that in order for the body to use ALA it must be converted into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). In the conversion process over 80 percent is lost. With nuts and flax being high in calories you can see that this really isn't the best option.

In summary, in the world of fats, saturated fat and trans fat put us at risk for heart and artery disease, and knowing what are healthy fats will help us avoid and substitute appropriately. Once you understand the game, formulating a winning game plan utilizing the many health advantages of omega 3 supplements /foods all of the sudden doesn't seem all that far out of our reach.


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