When you think of fatty foods, it is surrounded by a hugely negative narrative. We hear about how it can lead to weight gain, increased risk of certain diseases and high cholesterol.
But the right fats can actually be healthy and nutritious. What is fat? Fat is a type of nutrient that is needed to absorb vitamins into the body which is then used as a fuel source. Understanding the difference between good fats and bad fats can be a huge difference to your diet.
Dietary fats play a huge role in cholesterol levels as the types of fats you consume influence your cholesterol levels. There are two types of cholesterol; HDL and LDL. LDL cholesterol is the bad kind so you want to keep these levels low and HDL cholesterol is the good kind so you want to keep these levels high. Rather than focusing on cholesterol levels, start replacing bad fats with good fats.
There are several different types of fats such as monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats and unsaturated fats. Here we separate the healthy from the unhealthy fats and look at what foods you want to eat, the benefits of eating them and what foods you want to avoid.
Monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the fats you want to be consuming. Monosaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and start to harden when chilled. Mono means one and signifies that these fats have only one double bond. Some of the benefits of monosaturated fats include:
- Can help with weight loss
- Reduce risk factors of heart diseases
- Helps insulin sensitivity
Here are some of the foods you can find monosaturated fats in:
- Olive oil
- Rapeseed oil
- Nuts – almonds, peanuts
- Nut Butters
- Canola oil
Polyunsaturated fats have more than one carbon bond in a fat molecule and are also liquid at room temperature. They are not saturated with hydrogen molecules and are mostly found in plant sources. Some of the benefits of polyunsaturated fats include:
- Adds vitamin E to your diet
- Aids cell development
- Impact blood cholesterol levels leading to a decreased risk of heart diseases
Here are some of the foods you can find polyunsaturated fats in:
- Fatty fish – tuna, salmon, sardines
- Sunflower seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower oil
Trans fats and unsaturated fats are the fats you should be avoiding. Trans fats are usually produced by manufacturers who want to increase the shelf life of their product. This is done by adding hydrogen to the liquid vegetable oils to make the oils more solid. These are called partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats are often considered to be one of the worst types of fats.
Here are some of the foods you can find trans fats in:
- Frozen pizzas
- Baked goods
- Microwave popcorn
- Fried foods – fries, doughnuts
Saturated fats get their name because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules. They are solid at room temperature. Several studies have shown that saturated fats are linked to high cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart diseases. Most saturated fats are found in animal sources.
Here are some of the foods you can find saturated fats in:
- Red meats
- Coconut oil
- Milk and white chocolate
We hope this gives you a better understanding of the different types of fats and the effects they have on our bodies. Fats don’t have to be a negative thing when it comes to your diet and can actually help you to feel healthier and stronger!
By Pooja Depala