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Fats and Carbs – They’re Not All Bad

Posted on June 12, 2012 in Facts, Nutrition Blogs | by
Newsflash: All fats and carbs aren’t making you gain weight. Blame the different kinds you’re consuming — and their calorie counts — for that muffin top. Jillian Michaels breaks down foods that will keep you full and healthy.

What do you think makes you fat? If your answer is fat, you’re wrong. But you’re not alone! Many people believe that fats, and even carbs, are the evildoers that ultimately pack on all the pounds. But the devil is in the details: You want to know what makes you fat? CALORIES! Consuming too many calories and eating POOR QUALITY fats and carbs will do you in.

Here’s the lowdown on the different types of fats, how they affect your body, and more about why fats and carbs aren’t the enemy:

1. Trans Fat
Let’s start with the absolute disaster: Trans fat is man-made through a process called hydrogenation, which basically involves heating up vegetable oil in the presence of hydrogen gas and changing the structure so that the fat stays solid at room temperature but melts when heated. Trans fats raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and increase inflammation, among many other negative effects. And get this: Recent studies suggest that even if only 3 percent of your daily calories come from trans fats, you can end up raising your risk of heart disease by a whopping 23 percent. Trans fats are DEADLY. You should never EVER consume them!

2. Saturated Fat
This type of fat is derived from animal sources. You generally find it in meat, butter, and dairy products. Saturated fat has gotten a really bad reputation over the years because it raises LDL cholesterol, but it turns out that saturated fats also do good by elevating your HDL cholesterol. Since the effects of saturated fats on LDL and HDL appear to cancel each other out, researchers are starting to change their tune. Now, saturated fats are considered good in moderation. And animal proteins are no longer under suspicion for being the main culprits in raising cholesterol and increasing your risk of diabetes: Instead, it turns out that processed carbs (like Twinkies!) are to blame.

3. Monounsaturated Fat
This is pretty much hands-down a beneficial fat. Monounsaturated fat raises your HDL cholesterol and lowers your LDL, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and other health conditions. Monounsaturated fats are also easier to burn, so they’re less likely to be stored as fat. Get your monounsaturated fats guilt-free but still in MODERATION, from healthy sources like extra-virgin olive oil, almonds, avocados, canola oil, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts and peanut oil, pecans, pistachios, and sesame oil.

4. Polyunsaturated Fat
Some of the polyunsaturated fats that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, like walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are really good for you. Though others, like corn, can create hormone-disrupting chemicals, or eicosanoids, that cause inflammation and damage your blood vessels. Polyunsaturated fats that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, like fish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and tofu, are the best kind of fats you can possibly eat. Both omega-6s and omega-3s lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol, but they also lower your “good” HDL. What makes omega-3s extremely beneficial is that they also reduce inflammation, lower your risk of heart disease and heart attacks, and they’re believed to help combat many other conditions from diabetes to bipolar disorder. And like monounsaturated fats, they’re easy to burn, which makes them unlikely to stick around as stored fat.

We now know that fat is an important element of nutrition. It is crucial for brain function. Consuming fat is also essential for pregnant women because it is integral to fetal brain development. Fat helps fortify cell membranes, and it insulates and helps protect your nerves. Fat contributes to heart health, digestion, lung function, and even your eye health. It provides a constant level of energy and enables your body to absorb more nutrients, including essential vitamins and antioxidants. And finally, fat makes food taste GOOD and helps us feel satiated.

If you’re still confused about why you should be blaming calories and not a whole food group as your enemy in the battle of the bulge, think of it this way: Calories are a unit of energy and fat is a storedenergy. If you eat too many calories of anything — whether it’s a good fat or a bad trans fat, a good carb or a refined carb — you’ll have a surplus of energy, so you’ll store it as fat and gain weight