Written by KURA Writer- Rylee Nelson
Understanding the role of lipids, commonly referred to as fats, is crucial for comprehending their significance in maintaining optimal health. Despite common misconceptions associating lipids with adverse outcomes such as weight gain, some are necessary for proper bodily functions.
LDL cholesterol is commonly called “bad” cholesterol due to its potential contribution to plaque accumulation in arteries. While HDL cholesterol is referred to as “good” cholesterol as it aids in eliminating excess cholesterol, supporting cardiovascular health. Other lipids include triglycerides and phospholipids. Triglycerides serve as an energy source but it’s important to limit the intake of triglycerides and aim for lower levels in the body. Phospholipids play a structural role in cell membranes (Cleveland Clinic, 2022).
Saturated and unsaturated fats are two distinct types of dietary fats. Saturated fats are mainly derived from animal products and certain plant sources. While unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are primarily found in plant-based oils and fatty fish. These fats are considered healthier options. They can help lower “bad” cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed moderately (Healthline, 2022). Some ways to improve and maintain your cholesterol include (Mayo Clinic, 2022):
● Reduce saturated fat intake: found commonly in red meat and full-fat dairy
● Eliminate trans fats: found commonly in store bought cookies and crackers, “most common in processed foods”
● Eat more omega-3 fatty acids: found in salmon, mackerel, and flax seeds
● Exercise regularly
● Quit smoking
● Limit alcohol consumption
It is important to maintain a balance between different types of lipids and prioritize healthier options, such as unsaturated fats, to promote heart health and overall well-being.
Reading nutrition labels carefully can help you make informed choices regarding the types of fats you consume. By checking nutrition labels, you can identify foods with lower amounts of saturated fats and opt for healthier alternatives. So take the initiative to check nutrition labels and prioritize foods that are lower in saturated fats for better overall health. By grasping the basics of lipids, we can make educated decisions about our diet and lifestyle, leading to a healthier future.
Cleveland Clinic. (2022a, November 3). Lipids. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/24425-lipids#:~:text=Lipids%20are%20fatty%20compounds%20that,of%20some%20lipids%20is%20harmful.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022e, September 2). Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935
Pietrangelo, A. (2022, March 18). What’s the Difference Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fat? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/saturated-and-unsaturated-fat#recommended-levels