Our mind automatically equates fats as unhealthy, especially when it comes to our diet. But this categorization is too rudimentary, as good as saying all fruits are sweet! The numerous fat-related diseases crippling people, from cholesterol to obesity, do not make the picture any brighter.
There are different types of fats, depending on their structure. Each of these plays a different role and has subsequent consequences in the body. Like any other element in our diet, fats can be good and bad depending on the type and how much we consume.
Why Are Fats Always At The Receiving End?
Fatty foods are never appreciated in the dietary world. People always hear to have a diet rich in protein or low in fat as a part of their daily lifestyle. A significant concern that arises from a high-fat diet is poor heart health. People consuming a high amount of fat in their regular diet are more susceptible to the cholesterol build-up in the arterial walls. The build-up adds up slowly, decreasing the diameter of the blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure, leading to multiple heart ailments like heart attack and stroke.
Fats, especially trans fat, are associated with obesity. Though obesity might not be a common scenario for most, it is hard not to ignore the protruding belly! The body does not digest the excess and stores it in layers in the abdomen and other regions. Though many other factors also play a role in developing belly fat, fat consumption plays a pivotal role. Fats also interfere with the insulin response mediated by the body. As a result, they decrease the response and hence make people more susceptible to type II diabetes.
Behind The Scenes
Just as mentioned before, there are different types of fat, each having a different effect on the body. Most of the impacts discussed above are a sole consequence of the trans fat in the diet. Though saturated fats contribute their part, it is trans fat that we should beware of.
Sadly, these are everywhere you go. From fried foods to baked delights, all of them boast high proportions of trans fat. Unfortunately, trans fat does not have any particular contribution to health other than decreasing it. But this also calls attention to different types of fats that can even help negate the adverse effects of trans fat.
Why Are Fats Good For You?
Like any other nutrients, fat is vital for the body.
- It is a building component of the cells; hence they are essential for the growth and development of the body.
- They are a significant source of energy. Your body can get more energy from the metabolism of fat than any other component.
- Fat plays a prominent role in the absorption and faster assimilation of some vitamins and minerals.
Hence, you should never shy away from adding them to your diet (though not in excess, though)!
Types Of Fat You Should Not Avoid In Your Diet!
You must have heard the term that unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated ones! Well, they are precisely what your body loves!
Unsaturated fat means the fat molecules contain single to multiple carbon-carbon double bonds. These are what make the fat healthier. There are primarily two types of unsaturated fats we come across in our diet:
- Monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats in the diet do not largely impact the cholesterol levels in the body and hence maintain the heart’s health. The most common type of monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, though you can also source other types from our diet. Monounsaturated fats aid in weight loss. A low carb-high monounsaturated fat diet gave the benefactors promising results.
Sources: Olive oil, canola oils, nuts, avocados
- Polyunsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats are not synthesized by the body, even though the body requires them for proper functioning. Hence, humans need to receive the appropriate amount of polyunsaturated fats from their diet. They are essential for normal muscle movement, blood clotting, and the formation of cell membranes. They also are found to reduce the harmful cholesterol (triglycerides) levels in the body.
- Unsaturated Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-6 fatty acids
The omega fatty acids help with arrhythmia, controlling blood sugar levels, and lowering blood pressure. Even though they have many health benefits, adding more fats to your diet is not ideal since fats contain many calories. So instead, try to replace unhealthy foods with healthy fats as much as you can.
Sources: Fish (salmon and tuna), vegetable oils (sunflower, soybean, flax oil)
- Saturated Fats
There is a fourth class of fatty compounds called saturated fats. They often fall in the grey area, and hence, you should consume them with caution. A simple way to identify them is they are solid at room temperature. Hence, grease (including the ones in meat), butter and other dairy foods, and even coconut oil contain saturated fats. Saturated fats increase harmful cholesterol levels in the body and hence are not deemed appropriate in large amounts. Though they may not have as drastic an effect as trans fats, replace them with unsaturated ones wherever possible.
It is vital to reduce the number of trans fats in our diet. Apart from trans fat, keep a cap on the number of saturated fats you consume. While buying processed foods, check the ingredient list. Hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats all refer to trans fat. Trans and saturated fats from naturally occurring/dairy products can be excused as long as they are not in excess. The positive effects of fats can be overridden by the harmful effects if consumed in proportions far more than what is recommended. However, do not deprive the body of the essential fats that it requires for proper functioning.