Heart Health: Good vs. Bad Fats


Fat is flavor, and indeed, it is what makes those burgers juicy and therefore more appealing. This type of nutrient is a source of energy and helps the body absorb vitamins. However, health experts say that they should be taken in moderation, because dietary fat plays a major role in cholesterol levels.

It is easy to blame fat intake as a culprit in the obesity epidemic, because it is easy to find calorie-dense fats in popular food choices such as French fries, processed foods, pastries, dairy products and meat. Excessive intake helps to trigger an increase in the rates of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.

The good news is that some fats are better than others, and making better choices about the type that you eat is part of enjoying a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing on taste.

Block out the Bad
There are two groups of fats: saturated and unsaturated, and it is the saturated fats that have been pinpointed to be the ones to avoid. There are two types of fat that should be consumed sparingly: saturated and trans fatty acids. Both have been found to raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease.

In an article published in the US National Library of Medicine’s website medlineplus.gov, Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, nutrition and physical activity director for the American Cancer Society says that there is evidence that saturated fats have an effect on increasing colon and prostate cancer risk. It is recommended whenever possible to choose healthy unsaturated fats and to always strive to be at a healthy weight. Saturated fats are found in animal products (meat, poultry skin, high-fat dairy, and eggs) and in vegetable fats that are liquid at room temperature, such as coconut and palm oils.

Trans fatty acids or trans fats can be found in natural sources in small amounts in dairy and meat and in artificial sources that occur when liquid oils are hardened into “partially hydrogenated” fats. Even small amounts of artificial trans fats can increase the risk for heart disease by increasing LDL “bad” cholesterol and decreasing HDL “good” cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting trans fat to less than 2 grams per day, including the naturally occurring trans fats. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines simply recommend keeping trans fats consumption as low as possible.

Take in the Good
Unsaturated fats are the smarter choice for a healthy diet. They include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats which, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats, found mostly in vegetable oils, help lower both blood cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels .One type of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, catfish, mackerel), as well as flaxseed and walnuts. The fats sourced from fish contain the most effective, “long-chain” type of omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of fatty fish each week.

Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but solidify if refrigerated. These are typically a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is known as an immune system booster. Food with this kind of fat can include olives, avocados, cashews, sesame seeds and olive, canola, and peanut oils.

Check your Diet
Fats are found in most foods that Filipinos are fond of. Knowing what kind of fats to include in the diet and avoiding those that have harmful effects on your health is part of Healthway Medical’s S.E.E.D. (Sleep, Eat right, Exercise, and De-stress) campaign, which promotes preventive healthcare and a proactive lifestyle. It aims to combat S.I.D. or Self-inflicted Diseases that are due to unhealthy lifestyle practices: obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

The medical professionals at the Healthway Medical clinics can advise you on the best ways to include healthier fats in your diet, which, along with an active lifestyle can help keep your heart healthy long after this Valentine’s Day. To get your start on being heart smart, call Customer Care Hotline (02) 751 4929 or visit the Healthway Medical website at www.healthway.com.ph

About Healthway Medical
As the most trusted and preferred network of mall-based clinics in the Philippines, Healthway Medical has revolutionized the way healthcare is being provided to its patients for nearly two decades. The company offers unparalleled customer-centric experience on top of optimum primary and multidisciplinary care from its reputable and experienced doctors, allowing its seven clinics at the Alabang Town Center, Shangri-La Plaza, Market! Market!, Festival Mall, 8 Adriatico Manila, SM The Block and Greenbelt 5 to earn a remarkable standing in the country in terms of preventive healthcare.


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