For a long time we’ve been told that fats add inches to your waistline, blocks your arteries, makes your skin look greasy and cause a mountain of other health problems. It’s about time we come on par with the fact that not all fats are harmful.
“Choosing the right type of dietary fats to consume is one of the most important factors in reducing the risk of developing heart disease,” says Tufts University researcher Alice Lichtenstein Dsc.
Just like proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients, fats are an essential part of our daily diets. Fats provide heat to our bodies, stores energy, keeps our hair and skin soft but also provide twice the energy as many per gram of proteins or carbohydrates. It also helps in absorbing certain kinds of vitamin and minerals.
But not all fats are identical. Certain fats have been said to have negative effects on heart health while some have proven to be significantly positive. Fats are majorly divided into two categories- saturated and unsaturated fat.
Unsaturated fats are considered as “hearty-friendly” fats and should be used more often. These fats tend to be liquid in room temperature and are considered as healthy, such as vegetable oil. These fats are shown to improve cholesterol level and reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke. Unsaturated fats can be further divided into two subcategories – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats reduce the bad cholesterol i.e. LDL (low density lipoproteins) and increase the amount of HDL (high density lipoproteins).
Unsaturated fats such as omega-3, omega-6, oleic acid, and linoleic acids are considered as good fats and incorporating these in your diet can help you lose your weight. Vitamins A, D, E and K require fat to be absorbed as they are fat soluble vitamins. Food rich in unsaturated fat such as avocado tend to keep you feel full for longer as they take longer time to digest.
A certain of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acids provide energy for muscles, heart as building blocks for cell membranes and as energy storage for the body. These fats help and reduce the symptoms of ADHD, depression and bipolar disorder.
These fats have proven to lower your blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). Good sources of monounsaturated fat include: olive, canola, peanut and sesame oils, avocados and olives, nuts (macadamia, almonds, hazelnut, pecan and cashews). Good sources of polyunsaturated fat include: sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and
Saturated and Trans fat usually considered as unhealthy or “bad” fats and these fats should be consumed in moderation. The reason why these fats are considered as harmful is because they undergo hydrogenation so they turn into partially hydrogenated fat and is solid at room temperature.
This is the worst kind of fat since it reduces the good cholesterol, HDL and increases the amount of bad cholesterol, LDL in your body. Artificial trans fats tend to create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions and contributes to insulin resistance, which increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. There is no need to cut out saturated fats entirely from your system since consumption of every nutrient is important but most nutritionists recommend limiting it to only 10% of your daily calories.
These calories can increase cholesterol, block arteries and also increase the risk of cardiovascular attacks if consumed vigorously. But incorporation of saturated fats into almost every kind of food has made it irresistible. Most of junk food for example, fries, pastries, chips, pizzas etc are made in saturated fats. Junk food is the sole reason for increasing obesity in many countries due to the usage of unhealthy oils for cooking.
Some typical sources of saturated fats are : high fat dairy food like ice cream, sour cream, cheese, butter), tropical oils ( coconut oil, palm oil, coconut butter, lard, processed snack food like
microwaved popcorn and crackers.