The Facts About Fats : Good vs Bad Fat
Healthy Living

The Facts About Fats : Good vs Bad Fat

Mehvish Hamdare profile Authored by Mehvish Hamdare on 17 Sep 2014 - 11:16.

All our life we've been told to keep a watch on our oil consumption as too much of it can lead to health problems like obesity, high cholesterol, heart problems and more. But are all fats bad and lead to health issues? Most foods contain several different kinds of fat, and some are better for your health than others. You don't need to completely eliminate fat from your diet, as fat plays an important role in the body as a major source of energy, aids in absorption of important vitamins, and acts as a cushion for vital organs. Therefore some amount of healthy fat in the diet is essential.

According to American Dietetic Association (ADA) around 20-35 percent of total calories should come from fat. In fact, some fats actually help promote good health. Therefore it is important to learn to make healthy choices and to replace bad fats with good ones that promote health and well-being.

Types of Dietary Fats:

  • Polyunsaturated fats (Good fats)
  • Monounsaturated fats (Good fats)
  • Saturated fats (Bad fats)
  • Trans fats (Bad fats)

Good Fats

Good fats sometimes called unsaturated fat come mainly from vegetable and fish products and they are liquid at room temperature.

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs)

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are "good" fatty acids that have many health benefits when used to replace saturated fatty acids. In one study it was found that replacing dietary saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats significantly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease events.

Polyunsaturated fats attach to and clear out unhealthy fats like cholesterol, triglyceride thereby lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke. They are also good for general heart, eye, joint and mental health. There are two main families of polyunsaturated fat: omega-3 and omega-6.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, reduce blood clotting in the arteries.

Omega 6 helps improve heart health as it lowers both total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol).

Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs)

Monounsaturated fats are considered the healthiest type of fats as they tend to lower total and LDL-cholesterol levels in the body. Studies show that eating foods rich in MUFAs improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, nuts, hazelnuts, cashews)
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines)
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu

Bad Fats

Bad fats include saturated and transfat which are solid at room temperature.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats come mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fat increases levels of total cholesterol and LDL which may increase risk of heart disease, and may also boost your type 2 diabetes risk. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat to less than 7 percent of your total daily calories. American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee strongly advises limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat to less than 7 percent of your total daily calories.

Trans Fats

Transfat is formed when vegetable oils undergo hydrogenation. Transfat are worse than saturated fats as they not only  raise LDL cholesterol but also lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and thus increasing the risk of heart disease. American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee recommends limiting the amount of trans fats to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories.

Saturated fat Trans fat
  • High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Poultry with the skin
  • Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Palm and coconut oil
  • Lard
  • Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
  • Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Fried foods
  • Candy bars

ADA recommends that for good health, the majority of the fats that you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, instead of foods that contain saturated fats and/or trans fats.

Guidelines for choosing healthy fats:

  • Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and more fish and chicken
  • Go for lean cuts of meat, and stick to white meat, which has less saturated fat.
  • Adopt healthier cooking methods like baking, roasting, steaming, poaching or grilling instead of frying.
  • Trim the fat off meat/chicken before you cook it
  • Choose lean meat instead of fatty meat or meat products
  • Choose low-fat milk and enjoy full-fat dairy in moderation.
  • Use liquid vegetable oils such as olive oil or canola oil instead of lard, shortening, or butter.
  • Use oils in rotation.
  • Half liter oil should be used per person per month.
  • Measure oil with tablespoons rather than pouring it straight from a container.
  • Compare nutrition labels when shopping, so you can pick foods lower in fat.
  • Avoid products that list partially hydrogenated fat or oil on the label.
  • When eating out, try to eat fewer fried foods, biscuits and bakery products, ask for less oil and gravy in food.
  • Use liquid vegetable oil instead of solid fats.

 

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*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.