Fats are one of the food groups that make up a part of your diet. They are a special type f chemical compound. Fats are necessary nutrients for your body, but too much fat can lead to a number of problems. Moreover, all fats are not created equal. Certain fats are good for your body while there are other types of fats which can cause serious problems, notably obesity and cardiac problems. So, before you design your diet, you will need to learn to distinguish between the different types of fats. Once you can identify those which are not good for your health, you can cut them out of your diet in order to promote good health.
Human beings require carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in their diets. The term fat refers to a wide variety of chemical compounds. They are generally soluble in organic solvents but insoluble in water. They are actually a category of lipids. Fats are derived from fatty acids and glycerol. While there are a number of harmful fats, the good fats are actually essential in your diet. This is because several nutrients are soluble only in fats. So, if you cut out fats altogether from your diet, your body will not be able to absorb and process nutrients like vitamins A,D,E and K. fats are also important stores of energy in the body and help you to fight a host of diseases.
Types of fats
All fats are not created equal. It is necessary to identify and distinguish different types of fats so that you can incorporate the good ones and avoid the bad fats in your diet.
- Saturated fats or solid fats are those which are solid at room temperature. They are generally found in animal foods like milk, cheese and cream. They are also found in red meat, poultry and fish. Tropical oils like coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter also contain this type of fat. They are often added to cakes, cookies and baked goods. This type of fat is not good for your health.
- Trans fats are a type of saturated fats which have undergone the process of hydrogenation. This process helps to make fats solid and increase its shelf life. Trans fats are added to fried and processed foods as they help to make the crusts crisp and flaky. They perform no useful function. Instead they can significantly raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
- Unsaturated fats are those which remain liquid at room temperature. They are often found in plant based oils like olive oil. These fats can actually be good for your cardiovascular health. There are two types of unsaturated fats:
- Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, peanut oil and canola. They help to lower the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol.
- Polyunsaturated fats are found in sea foods, safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, corn oils and soy beans. They also help to reduce the bad cholesterol. There are two types of polyunsaturated fats:
- Omega 3 fatty acids are found in walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, canola oil and soybean oil.
- Omega 6 fatty acids are mostly found in vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil.
Did you know that our White Body Fats could get converted to Brown Healthy Fats?
In this connection, it is necessary to distinguish between good and bad cholesterol. The bad cholesterol is low density lipoprotein or LDL. They transport cholesterol throughout your body. Excess amount of LDL cause the walls of the arteries to harden leading to cardiovascular complications. On the other hand, the good cholesterol is the high density lipoprotein or HDL. They pick up the excess LDL and transport them back to the kidneys.
Fats to be avoided
From the above classification it is seen that unsaturated fats can help to reduce the bad cholesterol and supply good cholesterol to the body. On the other hand, saturated fats and trans fats are harmful for health. So, these two fats should be consumed s little as possible in order to maintain good health. It must be stated here that saturated and trans fats are important ingredients of all processed foods and fast foods. Though it is harmful for your body, statistics show that the consumption of these types of fats is quite common. They also contribute towards obesity and a number of cardiac problems.
Trans fats and saturated fats are two types of fats which should be avoided.
Of all the different types of fats, trans fats are the worst for your heart and your body. This type of fat is rarely found in nature. Instead, hydrogen is added to vegetable oil by a special process called hydrogenation. This increases the shelf life of fats. Trans fats are widely used in processed and fast foods. This is because trans fats make the oil less greasy and it does not spoil easily. It also keeps the food fresh for a longer period of time. scientific studies now show that the process of hydrogenation makes the fat more difficult to digest. It also increases the amount of cholesterol in your blood more than other types of fats. The exact process how this happens is not known.
High amount of trans fats are present in most fried and fast foods as well as baked foods. Crackers, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, French fries are some examples of foods high in trans fats. Health concerns have recently reduced the use of trans fats in foods, but they are still quite widely used. You must know that if any packaged food item contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, the FDA allows it to be marked as trans fat equal to zero. So, even if you try to eat conscientiously, the total amount can gradually build up. It must be mentioned here that the small amount of trans fats naturally found in dairy and meat have been found to be less harmful that the trans fats found in processed foods.
The harmful effects of trans fats are as follows:
- It causes atherosclerosis. This is a condition when fatty acids accumulate on the walls of the arteries. This can lead to coronary diseases.
- Trans fats also increase triglycerides in the blood which lead to hardening of arteries.
- It also increases Lp(a) lipoprotein in your blood that leads to build up of plaque in your arteries.
- Finally, it is also thought to increase inflammation.
This is another type of harmful fat. Saturated fats are obtained from a wide variety of sources like red meat, whole milk dairy products, sour cream, coconut oil, coconut kernel, cocoa butter, palm oil etc. This type of fat is harmful for the body in different ways. These are:
- This type of fat tends to clump together along with protein and cholesterol. These masses then get lodged in arteries and organs leading to several health problems like obesity, cardiac problems, colon cancer etc.
- This type of fat stimulates the production of acetates in the body. This in turn increases the production of bad cholesterol in the body.
- Excess saturated fats are stored in adipose cells which can store up to 1000 times their own size. The fat store builds up easily. This ultimately leads to obesity. Adipose tissue fats are one of the most stubborn and are difficult to get rid of.
- Recent research by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine reveal more facts how saturated fats harm the body. This study found that saturated fats activate the enzyme Jun Kinases. These molecules actually increase insulin resistance and may lead to the development of Type II diabetes.
- With the help of this enzyme, saturated fats can physically clog the arteries and disrupts basic metabolism.
Saturated fats in small amount can contribute towards better liver health, promote better functioning of nerves, brain and lungs. However, it is necessary to keep the amount consumed strictly regulated in order to enjoy the health benefits of saturated fats.