Yes, you read it right we have good fats as well as bad fats. Fats are divided into two groups good unsaturated fat AND bad saturated fat and Trans -fat. In a simple manner, you can say there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. saturated vs unsaturated fats comparison told that saturated fats are solid at room temperature and unsaturated fatty acids remain liquid.
According to NHS (National Health Service, UK), A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. They are needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E, K, and D. Fats are the energy source of the body. Fats insulate us and protect our vital organs.
Unsaturated Fatty Acids Health Benefits
Unsaturated fatty acids lower the heart disease risk & also lower the cholesterol level. They are essential for a healthy heart. Saturated Fats have the reverse effect, they are dangerous for heart health and their continuous use can lead to elevated cholesterol levels and ultimately clogging of big vessels of the heart & atherosclerosis (platelet plaque formation in arteries).
Irrespective of Saturated vs unsaturated fat comparison all types of fats are high in calories: one molecule of fat provides 9kcal of energy as compared to protein and carbohydrates which provide 4.5 kcal of energy. So it is important to watch the portion sizes as well but one can keep the calories the same by cutting back on the sources of unhealthy fats (saturated & trans-fat) while substituting that of healthy (monounsaturated &polyunsaturated) fats. For example one can replace a cheese stick with almonds (1 cheese stick=12 Almonds) the calories may be the same but replacing a cheese stick with almonds is a healthy choice and it helps in improving heart health.
A. Unsaturated Fatty Acids OR Healthy Fats
- Unsaturated fatty acids or healthy fats have subtypes i.e. monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega 3 fatty acids.
- They decrease the cholesterol level.
- Good fats increase the HDL (good cholesterol) level & improve heart health.
- It Lowers the bad cholesterol or LDL level
- Unsaturated fatty acids Lower the risk of heart disease & stroke
- Unsaturated fatty acids Lower the blood pressure
- It must be included in the daily diet in the recommended amount.
- Example of healthy fats are as follows:
Sources of Monounsaturated Fats (Unsaturated fat foods)
Followings are the main sources of unsaturated fat foods:
- Cooking oil made from plants or seeds like canola, olive, peanut, soybean , rice bran, sesame
- Nuts like almonds, cashew, pecans
- Legumes like peanut
- Sesame seeds
- Peanut butter & peanut oil
Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats (Unsaturated fat foods)
The main sources of Polyunsaturated fat foods are
- Sunflower oil
- Corn oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Soybean oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Soft or tub margarine
- Salad dressings
Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Unsaturated fat foods)
The main sources of Omege-3 fatty acids foods are
- Tofu and other soybean products
- Canola oil
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
B. Saturated Fat OR Unhealthy Fats
- Saturated fats have subtypes i.e. saturated fats & trans fats
- Unhealthy or bad fats increase the LDL (bad cholesterol) level
- It increases the overall cholesterol level
- It increases the stroke risk
- Unhealthy fats lead to atherosclerosis ( hardening & thickening of arteries due to fat deposition &platelet plaque formation)
- It increases the risk of obesity and also increases the blood pressure
- Bad fats have an overall negative impact on a person’s health, so it is needed to cut down or substitute the bad fats with good fat
Examples of unhealthy or bad fats are
Sources of saturated fat foods are
- High- fat dairy products such as: Full fat cheese, Cream ,Ice cream, Whole milk
- Cream sauces
- High fat meats like ground beef, hot dogs, lamb, bacons, sausage
- Tropical oils like Palm oil &palm kernel oil
- Coconut and coconut oil
- Poultry (chicken and turkey)skin
- Processed food like muffin , cookie, cake
Trans-fats are the worst type of fat according to recent research. Tran-fat is also known as trans-fatty acids. Trans-fat is a double trouble for your body because it increases the LDL (bad) cholesterol and decreases the HDL (good) cholesterol. It increases the overall risk of cardiac disease.
Some meat & dairy products naturally contain trans-fat but most of trans-fat is manufactured through a process called hydrogenation in which liquid oil is made into a solid fat. The fats obtain through this process has longer shelve life. Trans-fat is listed on the label so check product label before using any food or check for words like hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. If mentioned try to avoid the product because it contain trans-fat that is harmful for your health
Sources of Trans-Fats
- Baked goods like cakes, muffins, cookies, crackers made with hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil
- Snacks like potato, corn or tortilla chips. Popcorn is considered a healthy snack but packaged & microwave popcorn use trans-fat to enhance the flavor or to help in cooking the popcorn
- French fries, doughnuts
- Stick margarine
- Frozen pizza crusts
- Non-dairy coffee creamer
- Fast-food like fried chicken
- Refrigerated dough products like cinnamon rolls &biscuits.
According to The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans following are the recommendations about fat intake
- Avoid trans fat
- Limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories a day
- Replace saturated fats with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
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