Fat is broken down into different types and in this blog I will cover what types of fats are good, bad and what foods contain which main source of fats. The word ‘fat’ is still a massive scare amongst the health conscious and dieters community, with much controversial advertising promoting ‘fat is good’ or ‘fat is bad’ . In this blog I will also clear up any misleading marketing we are still faced with in regards to consuming fat in our diet.
Unsaturated fat is widely known as the good fats, they have many roles in brain development, skin and hair growth, bone health, maintaining a healthy reproductive system and even in regulating metabolism. They have been shown to reduce inflammation and they have been known to promote coronary health by lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol and raising ‘good cholesterol’.
Unsaturated fats are found in foods such as:
Based from plants – Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, salmon
Unsaturated fat can be broken down further to monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats
Olive oil, avocados, nuts e.g., almonds hazelnuts and pecans
Seeds e.g. pumpkin and sesame
Flaxseed oils, flax seeds,
Unsaturated fats can be also found in other oils such as sunflower, corn and canola oil. Please note, that just because saturated fat has been known to have good health benefits this does not necessarily mean all sources of saturated fat found in particular oils and foods are good for you. It can be misleading to believe that because something is derived from a plant it is always healthy! Some plant based oils can be shown to be unstable and bad for health these oils contain a very large amount of biologically active fats called omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are harmful in excess. Many vegetable oils contain trans fats too. To read full blog on this topic, click here
Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat. Fats are important to health, with the body not being able to make these, we rely on getting these fat sources from food.
Omega 3 is typically found in: Fish, Flax seeds, walnuts and many even supplement with omega 3 fish oil.
Saturated fat has been massively demonised for years as being a main contributor towards heart disease leaving many with still slight concerns towards eating full fat foods and opting for low fat products. With much study and research, the saturated fat myth has been debunked for its health scares causing heart disease. For full blog on the saturated fat myth, covering why full fat is better for health and how it was debunked, click here
Saturated fat is mainly found in animal foods but a few plant foods have saturated fat. Such as coconut oil.
Saturated fat examples: Animal fats, coconut oil, butter, full fat dairy products e.g. cheeses, eggs
Saturated fat although has great health benefits when sourced from the correct foods, e.g. eggs, nuts, coconut oil and butter, doesn’t mean you can’t find saturated fats in bad foods such as processed meats, foods and desserts (which I also stated earlier with unsaturated fats.) It is common to find a combination of fats in one type of fat food group, so to reap the full benefits of the fat benefits make sure the food source is good to begin with.
Saturated fat has many health benefits from reducing inflammation, assisting to transportation of nutrients A, D, E, K, heart health and many more. To find out what saturated fat foods are packed with great health benefits, click here
Trans fats are the fats we want to avoid! Trans fats (trans fatty acids) go through a process called hydrogenation which involves heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst. Hydrogenated oils are a mainstay in restaurants the food industry so are massively found in processed foods, restaurant food and are used in baked goods, processed snacks and margarine because of their ability to with stand repeated heating without breaking down. This makes it ideal for frying fat foods.
Trans fats are bad for our health. Long term high consumption of them can lead to many health problems and scares such as heart attacks and heart disease.
Trans fats are bad for cholesterol levels because they raise the bad LDL and lower the good HDL. They also create inflammation, which has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Trans fats contribute towards insulin resistance too.
Ideally, we want to get a balance of both unsaturated and saturated fats in our diet sourced from good food products such as butter, coconut oil, avocados and nuts.