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by Christel Swasey

Bad Fat Discernment, Health 101

Bad fat, good fat.  You’ve heard the terms, but what do they really mean?  Can’t they all make me fat if I overeat them?  Yes.  They can both make you fat if you overeat, but the good fat won’t clog your arteries and give you a heart attack.  The bad fat will.

It might be important to know and apply the differences between fats, since bad fats are key villains in the development of heart disease.   Heart disease, which kills about half a million of us every single year in the United States, can be stopped in its tracks when we stop ingesting the bad kinds of fats.  (And increase your moderate-exercise frequency)

Here’s how bad fats create disaster for our hearts:

Heart disease begins with clogged arteries (called atherosclerosis) which happens when there is too much saturated fat and trans fat in the bloodstream.  The “bad” fat sticks to the walls, which narrows the passageway our blood has to travel through.

That narrowing alarms our bodies: something is wrong!  The alarm triggers the body’s immunesystem to release chemicals to try to fix the problem.  But the chemicals complicate the problem, because the chemicals make the artery walls much stickier and more substances get stuck.  Even good things like calcium and protein in the blood join the fats that are clogging the arteries and this chemical reaction creates something called plaque.

Plaque limits the flow of the vital, oxygen-rich blood to your heart.  Finally, an area of plaque can rupture. This rupture causes a blood clot to stay on the surface of the plaque. When the clot becomes large enough, it can completely block blood flow through an artery.  When the flow of that oxygen-rich blood to an individual’s heart muscle is blocked, partially or completely, a heart attack can happen.

So, to simplify:

·        a heart attack comes from blocked arteries

·        blocked arteries come from blood clots on plaque

·        blood clots on plaque come from ruptured areas of plaque

·        areas of plaque form from a chemical reaction between “bad” fats and chemicals

·        “bad” fats enter our bodies in our bad-fat-containing meals.


It’s simple:  stop ingesting the saturated and trans fats.  You are free to choose what  you will ingest.  No one is forcing you to over eat gigantic steaks, slathered in butter, followed by a trans-fat loaded sundae.   We have the power to ask for an alternative.  Do it.

It is simply a matter of remembering which”bad” fats can kill us– and then not eating them.  So, here’s the gold star education moment to remember:

·        Saturated fat (bad fat) comes from meat, cream, and butter.  Avoid using meat, lard, cream, and butter except maybe as a condiment for heart-healthier foods.

·        Unsaturated fat (generally good fat) comes from avocado oil, olive oil, soybean oil. Use avocado oil, olive oil, soybean oil, etc.

·        Trans fat (a bad, yet also unsaturated, fat) comes from the process of hydrogenating oils.   (Trans fats are rare in nature, and come almost exclusively from food processing; thus, you find trans fats in cookies, cakes, sausages, and other highly processed, not-very-close-to-nature food choices.

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