Good fats vs. Bad fats

Fast Facts

  • Fats are the essential macronutrients and our bodies cannot survive without fats.
  • Fats are the energy reserve of the body.
  • Fats not only provide us energy but also essential for the assimilation of other types of nutrients.
  • When we consume high carbohydrate or protein diet, our body stores the excess energy in the form of fats (Triglycerides) in adipose tissues.
  • Fats are an essential part of a balanced diet and our bodies need fats just like any other macronutrient.

Good Fats

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

These are known as good fats since they have a positive impact on our health and especially on the cardiovascular system. They remove thrombus and embolus in the blood vessels and heart tissues, dissolve them so that they are eliminated from the body. They are recommended healthy by cardiologists across the world. They serve the following functions in the human body;

  • They lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, infarction, and stroke.
  • They lower the levels of low-density lipids (LDL) in the body which is considered as bad lipid.
  • They raise the level of high-density lipids (HDL) in the body i.e., good fat.
  • They lower the blood pressure in the body.
  • They prevent atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis.
  • They prevent the abnormal rhythm of the heart.

Monounsaturated fats release the hormone leptin which is responsible for creating a feeling of fullness after meals that prevent us from overeating and weight gain.

Sources of Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are present in oils of plant origin such as olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, and peanut oil. They are also present in avocados, nuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, peanut butter, etc.

Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are good for our health. The best-polyunsaturated fats are obtained from fish sources and are known as omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

They are also helpful in reducing the symptoms of arthritis, joint pain, and skin diseases.

Omega 6 fatty acids are present in processed food items and vegetable oils. Excessive intake of omega 6 fatty acids is linked with inflammation in the body.

Some of the rich sources include flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, etc), soybean, soymilk, tofu, cheese, and others.

What are the bad fats?

Fats that are potentially harmful to health are classified as bad fats. They are solid at room   These include

  1. Saturated fats
  2. Trans fat

The common sources of Trans fats include butter, margarine, and fats from animal sources. Trans fats should be avoided in the diet while you can eat saturated fats in a small amount.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are mostly derived from animal sources. They are present in dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and high-fat meals.  Some of the common sources of saturated fats include

  • Dark chicken meat
  • High-fat dairy products such as cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, whole milk, butter, etc.
  • Vegetable oils such as palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc
  • Fatty beef, lamb and pork

Consuming an excess amount of saturated fats poses serious health threats. It increases the serum concentration of cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats reduces the risk of heart diseases. Source~ Cochrane Review

Traditionally, saturated fats are linked to cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Trans Fats! Most Harmful Form of Fats

They are the worst known type of fats. They are present in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the fats present in fast foods which make them harmful to health. Common sources include;

  • Fried foods
  • Margarine
  • Bakery items such as cakes, pastries, biscuits, brownies, etc
  • Processed snacks

Trans fats not only raise the serum cholesterol level, but they also suppress the high-density lipids known as the good fats.

Fats are very important for good health and perform several important functions in the body. Trans fats are harmful to health and should not be taken. It’s a good idea to incorporate good fats in your diet in a balanced amount such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

Make Smart Choices!

Start reading the nutritional labels mentioned on the back of every product. It will help you avoid bad fats and consume good fats. Select food items that have a low concentration of saturated and trans fats as well as low total fat content.

Following are some tips to balance the amount of fats in our diet;

  1. Eat a vegetarian diet full of beans, lentils, and vegetables.
  2. Try to replace fatty sauces like mayonnaise with mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice.
  3. Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  4. Select low-fat options in dairy products. Use skimmed milk instead of whole milk.
  5. Avoid high fat processed foods, fried items, desserts, and sweets.
  6. Lower your consumption of fast foods such as cheese and beef burgers, pizza, etc
  7. For cooking purposes, use vegetable oils such as olive oil, corn oil or coconut oil.
  8. Avoid deep-fried food items, consider boiling or grilling meat.
  9. Remove visible fat from meat before cooking.
  10. Skim off the top layer of soup after it has been refrigerated

Importance of Dietary Fiber

Fiber is very important to maintain good health.  Insoluble fiber is important for digestion and deficiency of fiber in the body leads to constipation. Cardiologists recommend that fiber should be taken daily especially for women. Soluble fiber is critically important for the cardiovascular system. Soluble fiber binds with the cholesterol circulating in the blood and helps in its removal from the body. Sources of cholesterol include;

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Fatty fish such as tuna, trout, salmon
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Lentils and beans
  • Vegetable oils
  • Oat, bran, chia, and ground flax seeds, barley, broccoli, etc
  • Smart tips
  • Try to select leaner cuts of meat

Individuals with high cholesterol levels should avoid fatty food items. If you have a positive family history of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and myocardial infarction, find the best heart care center near you and request for annual screening examination. In Manhattan, Chelsea and New York, about 2500 cases of cardiovascular diseases were reported in the year 2018. Work out a diet plan with the advice of your cardiologist and nutritionist and strictly follow it to stay healthy and fit.

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