Dietary Fat Facts

Dietary fat has been the target of much scorn over the years, making it hardly possible for people to digest the idea that it actually has a fair share of its benefits to the human body. This is especially so because nutritionists and weight loss enthusiasts have sermonised the idea that low-fat diets make a significant contribution towards weight loss and healthy living. While this is true to some extent, it is worth getting the facts right that some is needed in the body. However, we must also understand from the onset that there is  both good and bad fat. Before you start leading the coveted healthy lifestyle, therefore, take this journey to know the facts behind various types of fat and which will benefit and which are detrimental to your health.

The Bad…

Bad fats are broadly categorized into two kinds: trans fats and saturated fats. These can be recognized easily because they are solids at room temperature, and have been declared potentially harmful to the human heart. Health experts now insist that these fats must be consumed sparingly. When it comes to trans fats, it is advised that you totally abstain from foods containing it.

Saturated fats

Primarily animal-based, these are found in high-fat meats, and dairy products. Potential sources include fatty cuts of beef, lamb, pork and dark chicken meat, processed meats such as burgers and sausages and  high-fat dairy foods such as whole milk and butter and cream.

Trans fats

Unlike saturates, there is a very small proportion of trans fats in meat and dairy products. Instead, you will find them in plenty the moment you consume foods which contain hydrogenated vegetable oils. In simple terms, a trans fat is a normal fat molecule, but which has been altered and deformed during the hydrogenation process. Partial hydrogenation is done by vegetable oil manufacturers to make their products more stable. This way, the oils are less likely to go bad, which is of value to the manufacturer and detrimental to the consumer.

No amount of trans fats can be considered healthy because they all point out to health complications such as cancer and cardiovascular infections. While most people think of margarine as the primary source , they are actually found in most of the foods that we consume each day. Trans fats are readily available in baked foods such as biscuits, pastry and pizza dough. You will also encounter this bad fat in fried foods such as chicken nuggets, fried chicken and french fries. It will always be found in regular snacks like crisps and confectionary too.

The Good …

Before delving into the categories of fat that are considered healthy, it is essential to understand the role that they play in the human body. Fats basically maintain a healthy skin besides promoting proper eyesight and healthy brain development especially in children.

That said, you should note that good fats come from vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds. They differ from saturates in the sense that they have a smaller number of hydrogen molecules bonded to the carbon chains. These fats are liquids at room temperature, and can be categorized as either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.nuts-and-seeds

 

Monounsaturated fats

People have often been advised to consume monosaturates but in small amounts because they are known to increase the level of good cholesterol in blood and therefore reduce the risk of cardiovascular infections.

The next time you walk into a restaurant and dip your piece of bread into olive oil, you would have consumed these healthy monounsaturated fats. They are simply made of a single carbon-to-carbon double bond, a reason why they contain fewer hydrogen molecules. This is the simple structure that keeps the fats liquid at room temperature. Ideal sources of monounsaturated fats include:

  • Avocados
  • Peanut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Almond butter
  • Most of the nuts such as brazil, almonds and cashews.

Although there is no unilateral amount of monounsaturated fats that you ought to consume each day, most institutions and research centres indicate that you use these alongside polyunsaturated fats as much as possible in order to replace some of the trans and saturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats

The primary sources of these fats include plant-based foods and oils. The next time you place cooking oil in a frying pan, therefore, there are high chances that you are using polyunsaturated fats. These fats play an important role of reducing the amount of bad cholesterol in blood, and will therefore decrease your risk of suffering a heart disease.

Unlike monounsaturated fats, this strain contains two or more double bonds constituting the carbon chain. Broken further down, there are two major types of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These include Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly popular because they are readily available, with a wide range of health benefits.

Sources mainly constitute oily fish such as sardines, salmon,freah tuna and mackerel. Even so, omega-3 fatty acids can as well be obtained from plant-based foods such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

The benefits of these fats have been documented widely, particularly the ability to treat stroke and heart diseases. Evidence has also suggested that the consumption of polyunsaturated fats can help in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Foods rich on Omega-6 on the other hand include corn oil, sunflower oil, lineloic acid, soybean oil and walnut oil.

salmon

Although they are an essential part of diet, you probably understand that too much consumption of foods from one food group will not serve you right. If you desire to lead a clean and healthy life, there is need to balance your diet. Consume the good fats moderately and avoid the unhealthy fats. This should again take you back to the question of weight gain and weight loss.

While fats may not solely lead to massive weight gain, they can make it difficult for you to lose weight especially considering the kind of foods that you consume. As such, it is always important to incorporate exercise into your dieting efforts to ensure that you grow your health in all dimensions.

Always think about incorporating more healthy fat into your diet.

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