Know your fats

Like protein and carbohydrates, fat is a nutrient that your body needs. Fats are essential for supporting immune function, maintaining healthy skin, hair and aiding in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), among other crucial functions.

This article will find out the different types of fats and the difference between good and bad fats.

So let’s gets started!

Types of fats

Saturated fats:

Most saturated fats come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products and plant foods, such as palm and coconut oil. Most are solid at room temperature.

Unsaturated fats:

They are liquid at room temperature, primarily found in oils from plants and fish. There are two types of unsaturated fats; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Trans fats:

Trans fatty acids, more commonly called trans fats, are made by heating liquid vegetable oils in hydrogen gas. This process converts the oil into a solid and makes fats less likely to spoil, so foods appear to remain fresh longer; that is why the food manufacturers love them.

The healthy or “good” fats

Monosaturated fats

Help protect your heart by maintaining “good” HDL cholesterol levels while reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood.

Monounsaturated fats are found in:

  • Olive
  • Avocados
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds

Polyunsaturated fats

They play a structural and regulatory role in the body; they help form cell membranes, regulate gene expression, cell function and help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.

There are two primary polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega- 6. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats ranges from 1-to-1 to 1-to-5, but the typical Western diet tends to be between 1-to-20 and 1-to-50.

They cannot be made by your body, which means it’s crucial to include them in your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids

They are anti-inflammatory, and those found in oily fish can help maintain a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart disease when eaten as part of a healthy diet.

Omega-3 fats are found in:

  • Salmon,
  • Mackerel,
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies and bass
  • Shellfish like oysters and mussels

(Some vegetable options)

  • Algae such as seaweed
  • Flax
  • Walnuts

Evidence suggests that vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids may not have the same benefits for reducing heart disease risk as those in oily fish. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24261532/

Omega-6 fatty acids

They help with the function of all cells. Lack of omega-6 can lead to cell malfunction. They have some pro-inflammatory properties, but that is not necessarily bad because inflammation is essential for body functions like immunity.

Chronic inflammation, however, is not so good and can lead to many diseases.

Omega-6 fats are found in:

  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Cereal grains
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Most nuts
  • Vegetable oils

It is present in large amounts in industrially processed and refined oils, like soybean, cottonseed, corn, safflower, and sunflower.

The unhealthy fats

Trans fats

Small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats can be found in meat and dairy products. However, it is artificial trans fats that are considered dangerous and unhealthy because these completely unnatural human-made fats cause dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level.

Artificial trans fats have been shown to increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and other inflammatory conditions—even at relatively low doses. Trans fats even interfere with your body’s use of beneficial omega-3 fats and have been linked to an increase in asthma. That is why butter is better than margarine, for more go to the link http://solsnutritionstories.com/five-myths-about-nutri

Trans fats can be found in:

  • Commercially-baked pastries (cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes)
  • Margarine and fried foods
  • Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
  • Anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, even if it claims to be “trans-fat-free”.

To truly avoid trans fats, you need to read the label and look for more than just 0 grams of trans fat.

Vegetable oils

None of these oils come from vegetables; they come from beans and seeds. Perhaps the term “vegetable” is used to make us believe that they are healthy for us, but they are NOT.

Seeds oils are not natural; even if you have a million sunflower seeds, no oil will come from them. So how do you make “vegetable oils”? Using chemicals and heat to create a completely unnatural product is everywhere, from your oat milk to your pet’s food.

When the seeds or beans are finally in the oil form, they don’t contain trans-fats, but they are very unstable and can quickly oxidase, creating inflammation, oxidative stress and more free radicals in the body. Cancer and atherosclerosis, two significant causes of death, are salient “free radical” diseases.

Omega-6 fatty acids

Omega-6 in excess has been shown to cause vitamin E depletion, gut dysbiosis and inflammation, and contribute to weight gain, liver disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, and premature ageing. But in moderation, they are beneficial. However, because vegetable oils are everywhere, you may be getting significant amounts of omega-6 without not knowing. Restaurants usually use vegetable oils, especially in Asia and vegan or vegetarian cuisine. So any miso or coconut milk soup you get with your yummy sushi may have more than two spoons of vegetable oil.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are unhealthy, but excess consumption can negatively impact heart health, best consumed in moderation.

Saturated fats are found:

  • Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Chicken skin
  • Whole-fat dairy products (milk, cream, cheese)
  • Butter

Fats and cooking

If you heat an oil past its smoke point(1), it not only harms the flavour, but many of the nutrients in the oil degrade—and the oil will release harmful compounds called free radicals. In addition, heating oils past their smoking point has been linked to the formation of carcinogens.

For high-heat cooking

  • Ghee, extra-light (not extra-virgin) olive oil, avocado oil
  • Palm oil or coconut oil or macadamia oil.

For lower-heat cooking or non-cooking uses

  • Butter, extra-virgin olive oil and extra-virgin coconut oil.

Bottom line:

Eat more of the good fats, be sure to eat raw fats from avocados and olive oil. Instead, take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil and choose pasture-raised animal fats and wild-caught seafood. Eat omegas-6 and saturated fat in moderation, and please avoid trans fats, especially vegetable oils.

Resources

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/different-fats-nutrition

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24261532/

https://chriskresser.com/healthy-fats-what-you-need-to-know/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/

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