10/16/2013

ARE ALL FATS BAD? -DIETARY FATS

I attended a wellness seminar some months back where a speaker was trying very hard to convince the audience that all fat was bad for the body. The title of her message was “oil is oil” and she was basically telling everyone to eliminate all forms of oils from their diet. Her speech was not very convincing as I have read many articles from experts recommending oils like olive oil, avocado oil, etc. Plus she had no evidence to back up her advise. I decided to research further. Is her statement true “oil is oil”? Should you eliminate all forms of oil from your diet?


We all probably know that the main nutrients needed by the body are carbohydrates, protein, and fats and oil. Research shows that the body needs fat. It is a major energy source and also helps you absorb certain vitamins and nutrients. There are numerous types of fat. The body produces its own fat from taking in excess calories. Fats can also be found in foods. Studies have shown that not all fats are bad for you. 


Types of Fat



Saturated Fat: this fat is commonly found in animal sources of food. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, for example, a stick of butter. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Foods high in saturated fat include red meat, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils like coconut and palm. 

Trans Fat: just like saturated fats, trans fats are solid at room temperature. These fats occur naturally in meat, but mainly is a result from man-made effort to make unsaturated fat solid at room temperature in an effort to prolong its shelf life. Trans fat can be found in packaged baked products such as cookies, cakes, breads, and crackers, as well as fast foods and some dairy products. Studies show that trans fats are worse for you than saturated fats. Not only do they increase your LDL cholesterol, but they also reduce your beneficial HDL cholesterol. It is advisable that foods containing trans fats should be completely avoided. Check the label on products for “hydrogenated fat” to determine if that product contains trans fat.

Polyunsaturated fat: found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Research shows that polyunsaturated fats are required for normal body functions, however, the body can’t manufacture them and so must be derived from food. Polyunsaturated fats help build cell membranes. They are vital to blood clotting, muscle contraction and relaxation, and inflammation. Research shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, a good source of polyunsaturated fat, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Research shows that Omega-3s could help to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. Omega-3s come mainly from fish, but also from flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are good sources of omega-3s.

Monounsaturated fat: This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that monounsaturated fats may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be helpful if you have type 2 diabetes. Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts. Foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and corn oil.

References

Dietary fats: Know which types to choose - MayoClinic.com

The truth about fats: bad and good – Harvard Medical School, Family Health Guide

Are All Fats Bad? What Kinds of Fats Are Good to Include In My Diet? – American Council on Exercise
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