Diet and Fats – Good Fats Bad Fats
Fats in particular good fats are an essential part of a healthy low-fat diet and a source of energy. It provides essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. The right balance of fats should boost the body’s immunity to infection and keep muscles, nerves and arteries in good condition.
Fats fall into two categories: unsaturated fats and saturated fats. Low Fat Diet and Fats
Saturated Fats – Bad Fats
Saturated fats are mostly found in foods derived from animal sources and are generally solid at room temperature. However, there are also saturated fats of vegetable origin, notably coconut and palm oils (although these do not contain cholesterol). Saturated fats can be found in dairy produce, meat, eggs, margarine and hard white cooking fat (lard) as well as in manufactured products such as pies, biscuits and cakes.
When you eat a lot of saturated fats, your liver produces huge quantities of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). Both types are rich in bad cholesterol and are culprits when it comes to blocked arteries.
Does it matter what kinds of fats we eat? Yes, it does, as a diet high in saturated fats and trans fats significantly increase the risk of heart disease while polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are beneficial for our health.
Unsaturated Fats – Good Fats
There are two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature. They are of two types: those of vegetable or plant origins (Omega 6) such as nut, seed and vegetable oils, and soft margarine; and those from oily fish (Omega 3), such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines. Omega 3 oils are of significant interest because they have been found to be particularly beneficial to coronary health and can encourage brain growth and development.
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, some nuts such as almonds, walnuts, avocado pears and oily fish. Of all vegetable oils, olive oil ranks among the highest in monounsaturated fatty acids and has a special place in the low-fat diet and the Mediterranean diet.
Diet high in monounsaturated fats is recommended for heart health as they are known to have heart-protective effects and help reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol level.
Trans Fat – Bad Fats
Trans fat or trans-fatty acid created by partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils is the worse kind of fat to eat. Trans fat is commonly found in processed food such as cookies, pastries, cakes and crackers and is used to increase the shelf life of commercially baked products.
High trans-fat diet significantly increases the risk of heart disease as trans fat significantly raise ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol level and causes a significant lowering of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol level.
Always choose trans fat-free products and use naturally occurring un-hydrogenated oil such as olive oil and canola oil.
Also, limit your daily intake of trans fat to no more than 2.0 grams per day.