Many think that their weight loss problem will come to an end if they fat free foods or fatty foods, which may not be possible. Fats are an important part to have a healthy diet. We need fats actually, and we can’t live without them. They are the excellent source of energizing fuel. But it is crucial to understand which good fat is and which bad fat is, and also the difference between them that will be covered in this article.
What is a Fat?
Fat is a nutrient that is crucial for healthy body function. It gives energy and enables other nutrients to perform their job. It helps in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and k which are fat-soluble. It is one of the three major macronutrients (nutrients that we need in large amounts). In each gram, fats have 9 calories. Consuming too much of bad fats will put our health at risk. Unfortunately, many people consume more fat than they need which leads to obesity and excess of cholesterol.
Different Types of Fats:
Fats are classified into four main types. They are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and trans fats. Each of these fats behaves differently in our bodies, and so do the impact. There are bad fats and good fats. Let us discuss each of these types in brief.
- Monounsaturated fats: At room temperature, monounsaturated oils remain at liquid state, but if kept in the refrigerator will start to solidify. Nuts, avocado, and vegetable oils such as olive and canola are rich sources of monounsaturated fats. You can lower your bad LDL cholesterol and keep your good HDL cholesterol level high by eating foods high in monounsaturated fats. However, consuming more unsaturated fat without cutting back on saturated fat may not help.
- Polyunsaturated fats: Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at both room temperature and in the refrigerator. This type of fat can be derived from vegetable oils such as sunflower, sesame, soybean, and also in corn oils. In seafood, this fat is the mainly found. Eating foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats may help to lower LDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats have two types: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3S fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in cold water fish such as tuna, salmon and shellfish as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Some of the fish that are high in EPA and DHA are salmon, sardines, trout, herring and Atlantic mackerel. A healthy diet includes at least 8 ounces of these types of fish per week.
Omega-6 fatty acids: These types of polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in liquid vegetable oils such as soybean oil, corn oil and safflower oil.
- Trans fats: Trans-fat is a fat that has been changed by hydrogenation process. This process helps to increase the shelf life of fat and also makes it harder at room temperature. Crispy crackers and flakier pie crusts are made with this harder fat. If you eat foods that have high trans-fat, your cholesterol level will rise. So it is better to eat as little trans fat as possible.
- Saturated fats: Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and that is why they are also referred as solid fats. Red meat has more saturated fat than poultry and fish. You can find saturated fats in tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil. Saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels in the blood. So reduce the intake of saturated fats as much as possible.
What are Good Fats?
When it comes to consumption, unsaturated fats are the best option. They are categorised into monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Both of these fats when eaten to replace saturated and trans fats, can help to lower the level of cholesterol and thus reduces the risk of getting heart disease.
Identifying good fats: Good fats are the healthy fats to eat that we need to add to our diet. Mostly the healthiest fats are found in plant sources. Monounsaturated fats are found in plants, and polyunsaturated fats are found in fish, seafood and plants.
Sources of Good Fats:
- Monounsaturated Fat: The main food sources of monounsaturated fats are avocados, non-hydrogenated margarines, vegetable oils like canola and olive, and peanut oils.
- Polyunsaturated Fat: They are found mainly in plants and fish. They are of two types.
- Omega-6 Fat: Omega 6 fatty acids are found in sunflower, safflower, sesame and corn oils, nuts and seeds, and non-hydrogenated margarines.
- Omega 3 Fat: Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in omega-3 eggs, flax seeds, walnuts, flatter fish, and soybean and canola oils.
What are Bad Fats?
Trans fats and saturated fats are categorized as the bad fats that should be eaten sparingly. Both of these fats can raise the level of cholesterol and thus can increase the risk of heart disease. Try to limit the amount of intake of unhealthy or bad fats and replace them with healthy or good fats as much as possible.
Identifying bad fats: Saturated fats are found in tropical oils and animal products. Experts recommend limiting the intake of saturated fats to l10% or less of your total calories. Trans fats are of two types: the naturally occurring type, which is found in meat and dairy, and the artificial type, which is the result of hardening the liquid oils to partially hydrogenated fats. Artificial trans fat are the real worry in the diet, which is used in crackers, icings, cookies and microwave popcorn. These are the foods to avoid.
Sources of Bad Fats:
- Saturated fats: Saturated fats can be derived from many foods prepared with hydrogenated oils, and also in fatty meats, butter, lard, full-fat dairy products, cocoa butter and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Red meat has the highest amount of saturated fats and therefore fish, and poultry are much better options.
- Trans fats: Trans fats are found in almost all the foods that are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Also, many fast foods, processed foods, cookies and snack foods contain trans fat.
Some Myths and Facts about Good and Bad Fats
Fats are one of the most misunderstood foods that we consume. Let us get to know some of the myths and faces about good fats and bad fats.
- Myth: The body does not require fat
Fact: Our body requires fat, and we cannot live without them. We will have no energy without healthy fats. Everyday we need to intake some form of healthy fat.
- Myth: There is no healthy fat
Fact: There is a list of good fats that helps to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Healthy fats are unsaturated fats that are found in plants and many animal products.
- Myth: If you eat fat, you will become fat.
Fact: If you eat healthy fats, it will not make you fat, rather it will help with weight loss. According to many experts, omega-3 fatty acids which are found in fish greatly helps for weight loss. Weight gain is because of extra intake of sugars. Healthy eating helps you to stay healthy.
- Myth: It is bad for your heart to eat saturated fats found in dairy and red meat.
Fact: This myth is tricky since it is true in some respects. The answer depends on the health of the animal. Grass-fed beef are high in nutrition and are leaner. It is also higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) fat which helps with weight loss.
- Myth: Margarine is better than butter for health.
Fact: Margarine contains trans fats that are not good for our body, and so they should be avoided, whereas butter does not contain trans fats. Since trans fats contain partially hydrogenated oils, they lower the good cholesterol level and higher the bad cholesterol level and thus increase the risk of heart disease.
- Myth: Low-fat products are better for the health.
Fact: Refined sugars that are found in sweets and soft drinks play an important role in weight gain and skyrocketing the rate of diabetes. You may think that the cookies and desserts you eat are low-fat, but they contain a lot of sugar that brings very worse impact on your health. Low-fat dairy products may benefit some and not others.
- Myth: Eating fat raises my cholesterol
Fact: Not all fats are same. Fats are classified as good fats to eat and bad fats. Healthy fats help you to lower your cholesterol level and reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also advised to take low cholesterol diet. You need healthy fats to have a healthy diet. Limit the intake of unhealthy fats as much as possible.
Image Sources: revivingtraditions.com, definehealth.ca.