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Reduce bad fats to live longer

We eat too many fatty, processed foods and our health is being endangered as a result.

That is the message of a new campaign by the Irish Heart Foundation, which says a balanced diet plays a vital role in preventing a heart attack or stroke, the leading causes of death here.

"In a nutshell, research shows that two-thirds of Irish adults are eating more 'bad' fats than recommended," said Janis Morrissey, a dietician with the foundation.

"We are consuming too many of those and not enough 'good' fats."

Healthy fats are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The first kind improves cholesterol levels, thus decreasing the danger of heart disease.

Sources include nuts, avocados and olive oil. The second, found mostly in oils and plant-based foods, likewise reduces the risk of coronary issues.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are regarded as especially beneficial. Occurring mainly in fatty fish, Omega-3s are shown to decrease the chances of heart disease and guard against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure.

'Bad' fats, in contrast, raise cholesterol and leave you at greater risk of heart disease.

Saturated fats are mainly associated with red meat, while transfats are often a result of intensive food processing. This creates fats that are easier to cook and therefore less likely to spoil. These 'synthetic' fats are linked to unhealthy cholesterol.

"Not all fat is bad," said Ms Morrissey. "We do need some fat in our diet. The difficulty is that many of us are getting the wrong kind of fats.

"You can get the good fats from oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and trout. These are good for the heart, help prevent blood clots and ensure our hearts have a healthy rhythm. Generally, there are a lot of benefits from having fish in our diet."

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