Are you adamant that all fats are bad for your health? This article will tell you everything about dietary fat. It will also explain how to choose healthy fats from unhealthy fats, and the importance of omega-3s.
What are the dietary fats?
Fat is a type of nutrient. Just like carbohydrates and protein, your body requires some fat to provide energy, absorb vitamins and protect your brain and heart health. We’ve heard for years that fat can increase your waistline, raise cholesterol and cause many other health problems. We now know that not all fats are the same.
Saturated fats and artificial trans fats are responsible for the many health problems that fats have been linked to, including weight gain, cholesterol buildup, increased risk of certain types of diseases, and so on. However, “good” fats like unsaturated fats or omega-3 fatty acids have the opposite effect. Healthy fats can help you control your mood, manage your emotions, combat fatigue, and even lose weight.
Understanding the differences between healthy and unhealthy fats can help you improve your mood, increase your energy and trim your waistline.
Cholesterol and dietary fat
Your cholesterol levels are influenced in large part by your diet. Your body requires cholesterol to function properly. Cholesterol can be described as a waxy, fatty substance. Cholesterol isn’t necessarily bad. However, too much cholesterol can be harmful to your health. There is both good and bad cholesterol, just like dietary fat.
- HDL cholesterol, also known as “good” cholesterol, is found in your blood.
- LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” type.
- It is important to maintain low levels of LDL and high levels of HDL, as this may help protect you from heart disease and stroke.
- High levels of LDL cholesterol can block arteries, and low HDL can indicate increased cardiovascular risk.
The type of fats that you eat has a greater impact on your cholesterol than how much cholesterol you eat. Instead of counting cholesterol, you should focus on replacing unhealthy fats with healthy ones.
Good fats vs. unhealthy fats
Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. It’s important to eat more good fats and limit harmful fats.
Good or healthy fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils are considered the “good fats”, as they are good for your health, your heart, and your cholesterol. These fats are good for:
- Reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Good HDL levels are higher while decreasing bad LDL cholesterol.
- Prevent abnormal heart rhythms.
- Lowering triglycerides is associated with heart disease prevention and fighting inflammation
- Lower blood pressure.
- Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of artery walls.
These healthy fats can also be added to your diet to increase satisfaction after eating, which may help you to lose weight.
Monounsaturated fat Good sources:
- Canola, olive, peanut, and sesame oil
- Nuts include almonds, peanuts macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and cashews.
- Peanut butter
Polyunsaturated fat Good sources:
- Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish (salmons, tuna, and mackerel; herring, trout, or sardines); and fish oil
- Soybean oil and safflower oils
Unhealthy fats or “bad” fats
Trans fat. Although trans fats naturally occur in small amounts in meats and dairy products, artificial trans fats are dangerous. This type of fat is considered the most dangerous because it increases bad LDL cholesterol and lowers good HDL levels. Artificial trans fats can also cause inflammation. This is linked to stroke, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. It can also increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in the United States, has outlawed artificial trans-fats in commercially prepared foods. In addition, the World Health Organization has asked other countries to stop using trans fats by 2023. Products made before the FDA ban might still be sold. It is important to read all food labels carefully, as products can still be labeled “zero trans fats”, even though they may contain up to 0.25 grams of trans fat per portion. Look out for ingredients called “partially hydro carbonated oils.” This hidden source of artificial trans fats can quickly add up.
If artificial trans fats are still allowed in your country, you should eliminate them from your diet.
Trans fat Primary sources:
- Pastries, cookies, muffins, and cakes are made commercially from doughnuts, cookies, pastries, doughnuts, cake batters, and pizza dough.
- Snack foods packaged in packets (crackers and microwave popcorn, chips).
- Stick margarine, vegetable shortening
- Fried foods include french fries, fried chicken, and chicken nuggets.
- Anything that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrolyzed vegetable oil, regardless of whether it claims to be “trans-fat-free”,
Saturated Fat. Although not as dangerous as trans fats, too much-saturated fat can cause high levels of bad LDL cholesterol. It can also negatively impact your heart health. Although there is no need to eliminate all saturated cholesterol from your diet, nutritionists recommend that it be kept to 10% of your daily calories.
Saturated fat Primary sources:
- Red meats (beef and lamb, pork)
- Chicken skin
- Whole-fat dairy products (milk cream, cream, and cheese)
- Ice cream
- Coconut oil and palm oil are tropical oils.