My grandfather, Sam Katz of Rancho Mirage, is 95 and lives a happy healthy life. He travels and maintains a busy, active lifestyle. He battled high cholesterol in the past, but learned that eating good fats could actually help his condition. Through re-creating his diet, he has managed to live long and strong.

Grandfather learned that aging well can be achieved with the help of replacing bad fats such as saturated and trans fats with good fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These good fats have been proven to prevent chronic disease by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure. As we all know, excessive amounts of cholesterol become plaque that clogs your arteries and can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Bad fats are those found in dark meat, chicken skin, and whole milk products such as cheese, butter, lard, and ice cream.

The most important good fats are characterized as omegas 3, 6, and 9 and are found in salmon, tuna, flax seed, soybeans, nuts, avocados, and olive oil. Good fats have many positive attributes and are easy to digest. They provide the body with energy and create hormone-like substances that control blood pressure.

Good fats should account for up to 35% of your caloric intake. Consuming too much of these fats can be counter-productive as even good fats are high in calories and thus, should be consumed in moderation. Checking food labels will bring awareness to how much fat you are consuming.

Old habits are hard to break, but as my grandfather will tell you, replacing the bad fats with good fats can certainly pay off. Making simple food choose like ordering the fish over steak; selecting nonfat or low fat cheese and yogurt; replacing butter and margarine with canola or olive oil; avoiding pre-packaged food, fast food and fried food; and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Being aware of what you consume is the best way to maintain a healthy diet. Consuming more good fats can help prevent serious health issues, and eliminating bad fats can turn some health issues around.

It worked for my grandfather and we are certainly happy to still have him around.

Marley Benshalom is a journalism student at the College of the Desert. Her passion is health and wellness and she is very involved in the community. This is her first editorial and she hopes to contribute more to Desert Health in the future.

Sources: “Fighting Bad Fat With Good Fat.” Arabia 2000 (2009): Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.; “Fats In The Diet, Good And Bad: Recommendations For A Healthy Diet.” Clinical Reference Systems (n.d.): Consumer Health Complete–EBSCOhost. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.

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