Fats, the four letter word is our diet makes us to think “Stop! do we really need this one?”.
From the old aged people who is suffering from obesity to boys who are fitness freaks and spending half of the life span in the gym and ground, and uncles who wants to hide their belly fats behind their pants and girls who is really mad of fashion and lifestyle is suffering from depression too!
Fat is a really not a good word we come across when we are especially a mad, die hard foodie! But these are just myths! Believe me! Fats are not culprits, but the type of fats we are using is the real culprit. Fat is actually good and essential for our body.
Fats provide energy, maintain core temperature, make hormones, absorbs nutrients and maintain a good role in neurological functions.
The war on fat is over but the dietary recommendation on different type of fats have left us confused on which one to avoid and which to include. And finally we came to a mind that fat is not good for health!
I am here to give a clear explanation on the types of fats, the role in our body and the food providing the fats. Why poly and mono unsaturated fats are good for your body and industrially made trans fats are totally harmful for your body and unsaturated fats are somewhere in between?
Each fat molecule is composed of one glycerol molecule and 3 fatty acids which can be saturated and unsaturated and polyunsaturated.
The main types of fats are
- Saturated fats
- Unsaturated fats
Saturated fat has no double bond and monounsaturated fat has 1 double bond, polyunsaturated fat have more than one double bond.
Actually fat contain a combination of fatty acids like mono and saturated polyunsaturated and unsaturated. No oil contains only saturated fat or unsaturated fat.
1. Saturated Fats
We have been warned that unsaturated fats are unhealthy to the body for decades. Saturated fats are found in red meats and cheese can lead to heart disease. A recent review of 72 studies found no link between saturated fats and heart disease.
Then why do researchers thought that saturated fat are harmful for our health?
Researchers already knew that consuming saturated fat increase cholesterol levels in our body. And thus, cholesterol levels are highly linked with heart disease they came to conclusion that saturated fat causes heart disease. This hypothesis was actually based on assumptions and not experimentally proved in humans.
Saturated fats can raise LDL (the bad cholesterol) as well less HDL (the good cholesterol).
The word “saturated” refers to number of hydrogen atoms surrounding each carbon atom. It holds as many hydrogen atoms as possible which means it is saturated with hydrogens.
Unsaturated fats are generally found in vegetarian foods and saturated fats are commonly found in red meat, cheese and dangerous trans fats are found in packaged foods.
Nutritional experts recommend the daily intake of saturated fat should be less than 10% of calories in a day.
Overall saturated fat does not affect the lipid profile and causes heart disease like previously believed. The best studies of heart disease unsaturated fat for the prove that they are no longer linked together according to harvard health!
These trans fats are very wicked for humans and you may not know why! Although trans fats are banned in countries like UK, USA and Canada unawareness has increased and regulators have almost restricted the use of Trans fats in their diet, transfats still pose a public health problem.
They come in two forms.
Natural trans fats are there in meat and animals like cattle, sheep, goat in which it is formed naturally when bacteria in the animal’s stomach digest the grass eaten.
Researchers have concluded that consuming natural trans fats does not appear to be harmful.
Even conjugated linoleic acid,a trans fat has been found beneficial for human body and is marketed as a dietary supplement.
Industrially made transfats also called as artificial transfat or partially hydrogenated trans fats are tremendously hazardous to our health. They are commonly found in vegetable oils which give them a longer shelf life.
Indeed many observational studies have proved the direct link between heart disease and trans fats. It will definitely cause an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. That’s scary!
This evil transfats are found in
- Baked goods (cakes,cookies, crackers)
- Snacks like potato chips (That’s my favourite)
- Foods that requires deep frying like fried chicken, doughnuts and french fries. Canned biscuits
- Refrigerator dough
- Vegetable oils.
Listing the amount of Trans fats in the food label doesn’t make them always visible. The food and drug administration doesn’t require the listing of Trans fats unless it is half gram or more per serving, show the label may show totally transfat free even it contains half gram per serving says Kathy McManus, director of department of Nutrition at Harvard affiliated brigham and women’s hospital.
Life without trans fats is healthier. According to research, trans fats increases the risk of inflammation in people especially with excess obesity.
According to Food and Drug administration,researchers at CDC report have a exclaimed that eliminating trans fats in our diet can prevent 10000 to 20000 heart attacks each year 3000 to 7000 deaths from heart disease each year.
So, the conclusion is we must avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils. Go on your own fact finding in the grocery store and read those nutrition labels and purchase a healthy product.
3. Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats are generally known as “good fats” because they have a positive effect on the overall health of a body.
Studies have shown that unsaturated fat can modestly lower our LDL also called as bad cholesterol and increase our HDL also known as good cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fatty acid such as Omega 3 fatty acids help to lower triglyceride levels.
Current guidelines shows that 25% to 35% of the daily dietary intake should come from fat, ideally the monounsaturated fats.
Food that are rich in unsaturated fats are:
- Fatty fish
- Dark chocolates.
If you want to include unsaturated fats in your diet, you should make sure that you replace other foods in your diet that are high in saturated fats rather than to add to them .
If you consume them in excess it will result in excess weight and increased lipid levels. Anything in moderation is better!