What are Fats?
Fats are energy dense macronutrient providing up to 9 Kcal gram which is more than Carbohydrates and proteins ( they provide 4 Kcal / gm ) . Other than survival fat performs following functions.
- Vitamins A , E , K ,D are fat soluble vitamins which are transported by fats
- The vital organs like Liver , kidney , heart and lungs are protected by fats
- Fat acts as insulator and prevents loss of heat
- Fat is a part of the protective sheath covering the nerve which in turn helps in nerve transmission
- Fat causes bile production and emptying of gall bladder and helps in digestion
- Fat is required for growth of foetus in a pregnant woman and also causes lactation ( ie milk production )
- 60% of brain is composed of Fat that’s why fat is required for smooth functioning of brain
- Joint lubrication occurs because of fat.
In short Fat is required not just to keep one healthy its required for the sustenance of life.
Research continues on dietary fat, but some facts are clear. Dietary fat, also known as fatty acids, can be found in foods ( both plants and animals ).Certain fats have link to negative effects on heart health, but others have been found to be healthy.
Foods and oils have a mixture of fatty acids, but mainly type of fat they contain is what makes them “good” or “bad.”
Foods with bad fats
saturated fat and trans fat — are the harmful ones. Most of the foods containing these types of fats are solid at room temperature, such as:
Butter ,margarine ,animal fat like ( beef or pork fat).Trans fat should be avoided while saturated fats should be eaten in less quantity.
Saturated fat, Most saturated fats are animal fats which are found in meats with high fat percentage and dairy products. Saturated fat sources include:
When saturated fat is taken in excess quantity blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels increase.Doctors have linked higher saturated fat intakes with increased Cardio Vascular disease risks but researchers ( Study by Harvard University ) now think saturated fat may not be as bad as once thought ( but it still isn’t the best choice for fats ).
A journal article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that the risks of LDL cholesterol had previously been overstated ( specially its effect on cardiac health).
The comparisonof total cholesterol level to HDLcholesterol level is recommended .Doctors associate a higher ratio with insulin resistance and Cardiac problems.
Trans fat, “Trans fatty acids” or Trans Fat appears in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the worst kind . They are found in-
- fried foods (French fries, patties , burgers, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods)
- baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries ,cream cookies )
- processed foods
Like saturated fat, trans fat rises the level of LDL cholesterol ( “bad” cholesterol) and suppress high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ( “good” cholesterol ) levels.
Scientists suggests trans fats is responsible for an increased risk for inflammation in the body which in turn causes harmful health effects that may include heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.Some margarines except the non hydrogenated versions will contain trans fats.
NOTE : Unfortunately Labeling laws allow food companies to claim “no trans fats” or “zero grams of trans fats” though its still contain
hydrogenated oils. So its important to read the ingredient list.
Foods with good fats
Scientists consider monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat beneficial for human body making them better choices for diet.Foods containing these healthier fats are liquid at room temperature. An example is vegetable oil.
Monounsaturated fat, This type of helpful fat is present in a variety of foods and oils.Monounsaturated fats contain a single carbon-to-carbon double bond. which results into two fewer hydrogen atoms than a saturated fat . Research h consistently suggest that eating foods which have monounsaturated fat can control your blood cholesterol level decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. These foods include:
Polyunsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fats are the “essential fats” because the body cannot synthesize them and have to be provided throughdiet Polyunsaturated fats help to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are used for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.
There are mainly two kinds of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acidswhich are essential for the body . Both of these have immense health benefits.
The primary source of this fatis plant based food and oils.
Like monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat can reduce your risk of heart disease by reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Along with decreasing the risk of coronary artery diseases Omega 3 also helps in lowering blood pressure levels and protect against irregular heartbeats.
omega-3s can be found in fish , flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil.In addition to omega-3 fatty acids foods which contain omega-6 fatty acids: