Good Vs Bad: Choosing Healthy Fats

For years we’ve been told that fats are responsible for clogged arteries, obesity, and diabetes, among other things. However, not all fats are created equal. Knowing the difference between the good and the bad fats can help you decide which to avoid and which to eat.

Fat is a nutrient that is crucial for normal and healthy body function. The body uses it to build nerve tissue and it also supports cell growth. In addition, they are vital for the digestion, absorption, and transportation of vitamins A, D, E, and K. So, the fact of the matter is, our body needs fats.

To make the best dietary choices, it is important to understand the different kinds of fats and how they affect the body. There are 2 main types of fats – unsaturated and saturated fats.

Healthy Fats

Unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats and include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Unlike saturated fats, these are liquid at room temperature. Incorporating healthy fats in your diet can help you feel fuller for longer, thus promoting weight loss. To include unsaturated fats in your meals, consider drizzling a dash of olive oil, adding a few slices of avocado or a small serving of nuts.

  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: Eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps reduce bad cholesterol low-density lipoprotein (LDP) levels in your blood, which can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. They help your heart stay healthy by increasing the level of good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in your blood [1].

Some good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, nuts, olive, peanut butter and cooking oils made from plants or seeds like sesame, sunflower, canola, olive, peanut, and soybean.

  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Polyunsaturated fats help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering your LDL cholesterol. The two main types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 and both offer excellent health benefits. These fats are essential for normal body functioning and cannot be made by the body, therefore they must be obtained from food. They play a role in many important body processes such as blood clotting and blood pressure regulation.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Studies suggest that Omega-3 is beneficial for heart health and reduces the risk of coronary artery disease [2]. They help lower the triglyceride levels in the blood, the increase of which puts the heart at risk. They are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Whereas flaxseeds, walnuts, nuts, chia seeds, and canola oil are some of the plant-based sources of this fatty acid.

  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Omega-6 fatty acids have also been linked to protection against heart disease and diabetes, and are an important source of energy for the body. These fats can also help with the symptoms and pain of rheumatoid arthritis [3].

Foods in omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils.

Unhealthy Fats

Saturated and trans fats are the two main types of unhealthy fats. These fats are usually solid at room temperature, which is why they’re typically referred to as solid fats.

  • Saturated Fats: This type of fat comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease [4].

Processed and junk food have a lot of saturated fat, excess of which can lead to weight gain

  • Trans Fats: Trans fats serve our body no nutritional purpose [5]. Health experts recommend that the consumption of this kind of fatty acid should be as low as possible.

Meat and dairy products contain a small amount of naturally occurring trans fats. However, it’s artificial trans fats that are considered dangerous as it not only raises LDL cholesterol but also lowers good HDL levels. Being linked to heart disease and stroke [6], artificial trans fats have been banned in several countries.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875103/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357022/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634864/
  4. https://www.internationaljournalofcardiology.com/article/S0167-5273(18)36924-9/fulltext
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4016047/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26620830

Food nutrition labels – Understanding food you eat

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When you want to start living healthier, you need to consider a lot of things. For example – you need to ration your ice creams and chocolates, start exercising, regulate your sleep timings, and inculcate various other habits. However, one thing that most of us might miss out on is smart shopping.

During grocery shopping, you simply tend to pick out foods that seem healthy to you. What you don’t bother to do is check the ‘nutrition facts’. You need to be really careful while choosing from a wide range of fat-free, sugar-free and preservative-free options that are available nowadays.

bon happetee diet plan app and weight loss appIt is easy to turn a blind eye to these and just look for (and usually fall for) items that have low calories, low sugar, low saturated fat, zero cholesterol, high fibre, and so on.
Most of the time, these are nothing but misleading labels to fool the customers into thinking that the product is healthy. Not everything written in BOLD on the cover should be believed. It is really important to turn the box or rotate the bottle and check the content and nutritional facts of the food item since these items could be doing more harm than good. For instance, the low-fat items – when you eat something that is full-fat, you at least stop after you have taken a bite or two as the fat makes you feel fuller. Whereas, when you eat the low-fat variety, you tend to eat it in larger quantities, because at the back of your mind you think they are not eating much fat. Also, in order to make up for the loss of taste that fat gives, these foods have added sugar and salt which are much more harmful than certain healthy fats. Furthermore, a lot of Low-fat and fat-free food items also contain chemical-laden additives such as colouring and preservatives, which can be really harmful. Continue reading