When I talk to my patients about their diet, one of the first topics that come up is fat. We all know that one key dietary consideration for maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the fats that we eat. While most people know to try to limit the fatty foods in their diet, not all realize that there are actually good fats. In fact, fats are an important part of our diet and are needed for the following: Proper cell structure Production of Certain Hormones Vitamins Energy Don’t Cut All Fats Many people believe that cutting all fats should be their main goal. This isn’t entirely a good idea due to the body’s need for ‘good’ fats. You should try to eat good fats, to the extent that you need them, and avoid eating bad fats. So how much do our body’s need of the good fats? Most experts recommend that we get 20-35% of our daily calories from good fats. Good Fats Vs. Bad Fats I gave some examples of what good fats can do for your body, but what actually are the good fats? Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats comprise the ‘good’ fats category. These are the types of fats you should try to eat, and can actually lower your bad cholesterol levels. On the other hand, the bad fats consist of saturated and “trans” fats. These are the fats that you want to avoid. They can raise your bad cholesterol, and increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Here are some examples of each of the fats mentioned: Monounsaturated Fat Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil Olives, Almonds Cashews Avacados Polyunsaturated Fats Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Safflower Oil, Flaxseed Oil Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Salmon, Trout, Mackerel) Saturated Fats Fatty Red Meat High Fat Dairy Poultry Skin Ice Cream Butter Eggs Trans Fats Fried Foods Cookies Icing Crackers Snack Foods Read the Labels and Watch What You Eat As you can see, different foods have different kinds of fats, and some are better for you than other. The important takeaway here is that you need to carefully read nutrition labels to see what kinds of fats are in the foods you eat. While it’s probably impossible for you to immediately cut out all bad fats, it’s a good idea to try to limit or eliminate some of the foods you eat that are high in Saturated and Trans fats. Not all fat is bad, but you need to pay attention to what, and how much, you are eating. Fats are just another example of how watching what foods you eat can go a long way in helping promote a healthier and happier lifestyle.