We all know that eating the right foods may help maintain our health. Unfortunately, a lot of confusion exists around what is good for us and what isn’t, especially when it comes to fats. Nutrition expert Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS provided Phoenix’s Sonoran Living viewers a lesson on unhealthy and healthy fats. Trans fats are bad for your heart and should be avoided. Saturated fats, such as Malaysian sustainable palm oil can be included in a healthy diet.

Trans fats are the artificial byproduct of an industrial food-manufacturing process. “The government is helping us because trans fats are being abolished from the food supply,” explained Bowden. Food producers must remove partially hydrogenated oils from their products by June 2018. Bowden offered a tip to spot products which contains trans fat: “Look at the label. If you see ‘hydrogenated oil’, the product has trans fats, even if the label says zero.” Labeling guidelines enable manufacturers to claim a product has zero trans fat even if it contains up to 0.5 grams per serving.

Instead of focusing on fats, Bowden suggested avoiding junk food. “All these candies, cookies and sodas cause inflammation. Inflammation causes disease. It is that simple. We have to get rid of all these chemicals and start eating real food.” He suggested wild salmon and other omega-3-rich foods as they are anti-inflammatory.

The concept of healthy fats is unfamiliar to many people. “One of the worse misconceptions we have is that all saturated fat is bad. That’s not true at all,” explained Bowden. “Switching to something like Malaysian palm oil is a great thing to do because all the other oils are very inflammatory. Palm oil isn’t at all. It’s a saturated fat, and it is really good for you.” Bowden explained that the origin of palm oil matters. “I like it from Malaysia,” he said. “They have great environmental policies, plus it is sustainably grown and produced.”

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Malaysian sustainable palm oil is an ingredient in better-for-you products such as Smart Balance spreads and peanut butter. “Just look for palm oil and don’t be afraid of it,” said Bowden. Palm oil isn’t the only healthy fat. “Natural saturated fats which are found in grass-fed beef and some fish are perfectly healthy fats. What we have to cut back on is all the vegetable oils we’ve been told to eat, such as the processed omega-6s: corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. They are very inflammatory.”