Many people think all fats are bad but the truth is we need fats as a food source, for help absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and more. While there are theories on both sides of the good fat/bad fat argument, most US health care agencies still recommend limiting saturated fats when possible. The USDA recommends 25 to 30 percent of your calories should come from fat, but only 10 percent from saturated fat.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthier because they help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. These good fats also play a role in helping with moods, staying mentally sharp and even controlling your weight.
Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocados, olives, nuts and peanut butter.
Polyunsaturated fats include soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines), soy milk and tofu.
Saturated and trans fats are less healthy and should be avoided as much as possible. Saturated and trans fats clog arteries and increase cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Trans fats — which are artificially manufactured — are especially important to avoid.
Sources of saturated fats include high-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork), chicken with the skin, whole-fat dairy products, butter, cheese, ice cream, palm oil, coconut oil and lard.
You’ll find trans fats in commercially baked cookies, doughnuts, muffins and pizza dough, packaged snack foods, margarine, vegetable shortening and candy bars.