Updated: August 26, 2011

Everyone needs fat for energy. Just choose unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) found in foods like salmon and walnuts. Limit saturated fats, including cream and butter, which come from animals, as well as trans fatty acids -- the artery-clogging result of turning oils into room-temperature solids, as with hard margarines and shortenings.

MONOUNSATURATED FATS

Type of fat Monounsaturated oils

Food source Olive, peanut and canola oils

Health benefits Reduce "bad" (LDL) cholesterol

Type of fat Nuts/nut butters

Food source Almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamias

Health benefits Good source of protein, fiber and polyphenols (a class of phytochemicals that show promise in preventing cancer and heart disease)

Type of fat Fatty legume

Food source Peanuts/peanut butter

Health benefits High in resveratrol, a phytochemical also found in red wine that can reduce the risk of heart disease; also a good source of protein, fiber and polyphenols (see above)

Type of fat Fatty fruit

Food source Avocado, olives

Health benefits Terrific source of vitamin E, which fights heart disease, as well as fiber and lutein -- a phytochemical found to prevent some age-related eye diseases (macular degeneration, but not cataracts)

POLYUNSATURATED FATS

Type of fat Omega-3 fatty acids

Food source Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts

Health benefits Fatty fish provide healthy protein and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease; flaxseeds brim with fiber and show promise in fighting cancer and helping lower cholesterol; walnuts protect the heart, fight cancer and help reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

Type of fat Polyunsaturated oils

Food source Corn oil, soybean oil

Health benefits Help reduce "bad" (LDL) cholesterol

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