Fat has earned a bad reputation. When people hear the word “fat”, you can see them cringe at the thought of cellulite, love handles and beer guts, almost as if you are pointing to them as an example. While body fat may be a disgusting thought to many, dietary fats are an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle.

I’m sure you have heard the term “essential fatty acids.” The key word in there is essential. Fatty acids are essential to many aspects of human biochemistry, including hormone production, muscle growth, brain function and skin health. However, not all fats are good for you, and it is because of this that we need to be more aware of the types of dietary fat that we consume.

Fats are divided into the following categories:

· Polyunsaturated
· Monounsaturated
· Saturated
· Trans fat

The first two – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated – are healthy fats. These types of unsaturated fat can actually reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your overall levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol). There are many sources of these fats, which you may already be consuming. Under the title of polyunsaturated fat are the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which your body cannot produce on its own.

Some excellent sources of these fats are:

· Olive oil
· Peanuts and peanut oil
· Avocadoes
· Safflower oil
· Sunflower oil
· Flax seed
· Fish

The other two classes of fatty acids – Saturated and Trans fat – are the culprits that have earned dietary fat its’ bad reputation. These two classes of fat, when consumed in excessive amounts, can increase your risk for heart disease by increasing your total LDL.

Some of the sources for these fats are:

· Red meat
· Lard
· Butter
· Margarine
· Fried foods
· Shortening

Now I’m not one to tell people to avoid red meat and butter, but I do feel that you should eat these foods in moderation. If you have a family history of heart disease or your doctor has advised you to limit the consumption of these types of foods, by all means you should be listening to them. Of course, an abundance of fried foods, doughnuts, cakes and pies, are not going to be beneficial to your overall health, no matter what your family history may be.

It all comes down to this: you are responsible for your diet and for making the right decisions for healthy eating. Many people try to follow a low fat diet and that is fine, but just remember that you do need to eat healthy fats. Fats play a role in many areas within the human body, and good fats are an integral part of living a healthy life. It is vital to your health that you learn to make the distinction between the types of fats you are consuming. Taking the time to recognize these dietary fats can have a dramatic impact on your body and your health. With this nutrition knowledge, you can see that not all fats are created equal.

Author's Bio: 

Tim Mielke
Competitive Bodybuilder and Author

Tim Mielke has been involved in the supplement industry for over 15 years. As a former competitive body builder and personal trainer, Tim has extensive first-hand knowledge of the benefits and pitfalls of fitness supplementation. Knowledge so extensive, in fact, that his book, “The Book of Supplement Secrets: A Beginners Guide to Nutritional Supplements,” was recently published and is currently available through Amazon.com. Tim brings this supplement and bodybuilding know-how to www.i-supplements.com as a contributing author and researcher.