Updated: Jul 19, 2021
Thinking that oil/fat is bad for health? Here’s something you need to know about dietary fat and how do you choose good fats over bad fats.
Fat is part of the important macronutrient for us, and just like protein and carbohydrates, your body needs some fat for energy, to absorb vitamins (fat-soluble), and to protect your heart and brain health. For years we’ve been told that eating fat will add inches to your waistline, raise cholesterol, and cause a myriad of health problems. But now we know that not all fat is the same.
Fat can be divided into 3 main categories:
1. Saturated fats
Fats that are tightly packed with no double bonds between the fatty acids. Most are solid at room temperature. Sources include fatty meat products in beef, lamb, pork, and chicken, dairy products, coconut, and palm oil.
The debate over whether the consumption of saturated fat is bad for heart health has been ongoing for decades. While it’s clear that saturated fats raise blood lipids, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and certain other heart disease risk factors, such as inflammation, it’s unclear whether saturated fats increase the risk for heart disease. While research on this subject is ongoing, it’s important to keep in mind that saturated fat is just one piece of your dietary intake. What matters most for maintaining your health and reducing your disease risk is the overall quality of your dietary intake and lifestyle.
2. Unsaturated fats
Unsaturated fats are loosely packed. They tend to be liquid at room temperature. They can be further divided into 2 types:
a) Monounsaturated fats (Found in olive oil, avocado, most nuts, and seeds)
Contains Omega 9 mainly and it can be produced in the body so it’s called non-essential fatty acids. However, it is a key fatty acid for the brain nerve cells therefore adequate supply is necessary.
b) Polyunsaturated fats, essential fatty acids, further divided into:
I) Omega 3
Found mainly in fatty fishes (sardine, salmon herring, mackerel), flax seed, chia seed.
Beneficial to brain and heart health.
II) Omega 6
Found in vegetable oils like canola, corn, grapeseed, sunflower, soybean.
** The ideal ratio of Omega 3: Omega 6 is 1:1-4. Anything more than that will lead to inflammation in the body.
3. Trans fats
This is the worst type of unhealthy fats that you need to avoid. They have no nutritional value and are harmful to your health, often linked to heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Since food products can be listed as having “zero trans fats” even if they contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, it’s still important to carefully read food labels. Look for ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils”. Remember that no amount is considered safe, so aim to eliminate it from your diet.
They’re often found in processed snacks, fried food, baked goods, anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
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