Eat Well

Good Fats

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It wasn’t long ago that we blamed fat for all of life’s ails. Sure, fat can make you gain weight and contribute to chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and stroke. But not all fats are created equal. In fact, certain types of fat are actually good for you.

“There is more to the nutrition story than ‘don’t eat fat,’” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, MEd, a registered dietitian and director of wellness coaching at the Cleveland Clinic and a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Certain types of fats are much more important for our bodies than others.”

Researchers are learning that “good” fats play a huge role in health, wellness and longevity. “You need fat to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, for energy, to cushion organs and to aid in normal growth and development,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of disease reversal at the Cleveland Clinic. “The key is focusing on the good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and eliminating the bad fats (trans and saturated fats).”

How can you tell the difference between fats that are good for you and those that expand your waistline and increase your risk for chronic disease? The bad fats, saturated and trans, tend to be solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid at room temperature (like olive oil). Replace your solid fats with liquids and not only will you reap the rewards in your physical body with a healthier heart, but you’ll also keep your mind sharp and your moods in balance.

Wow Fact
If a product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it can be labeled “trans-fat-free.” But if you eat four servings of the product (easy to do with a bag of chips or a box of cookies), you’ll be getting as much as two grams of trans fats. Our advice: Scan the ingredient list for “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” and “vegetable shortening,” because those indicate that the product contains trans fat.

GO! Foods For You
Slim down and feel great with GO! Foods for You, Cleveland Clinic's Mediterranean-style food program.

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