Health

Healthy Fats vs. Unhealthy Fats

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

Just like carbohydrates and proteins, fats are also one of the essential marconutrients required for proper functioning of our body. Fats, also known as triglycerides, are necessary for life which serve both metabolic and structural functions. Fats are esters of three fatty acid chains and the alcohol glycerol.

The terms lipid, oil and fat are often confused with each other. Lipid is not necessarily a triglyceride, it is used as a general term. Oil refers to a lipid with short or unsaturated fatty acid chains that is liquid at room temperature, while fat refers to lipids that are solids at room temperature. Fat (in a general sense) may be used in food science as a synonym for lipid. Fats, generally hydrophobic, are insoluble in water and soluble in organic solvents.

Fats and oils are categorized according to the number of bonds of the carbon atoms in the aliphatic chain. Saturated fats have no double bonds between the carbons in the chain while Unsaturated fats have one or more double bonds of carbon atoms in the chain.

Fats contains 9 calories per gram.

Good Fats

1.Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA):

Mono Unsaturated Fat (MUFA)

Monounsaturated fats have one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule i.e a double bond. Oils containing monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Monounsaturated fats are good fats and are beneficial for health. Monounsaturated fats reduces bad cholesterol(LDL and VLDL) levels in blood and lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients for the development and maintenance of body’s cells. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also provides vitamin E(which is an antioxidant) to our diet.

Sources:

  • avocados
  • almonds, cashews and peanuts
  • cooking oils made from plants or seeds like canola, olive, peanut, soybean, rice bran, sesame and sunflower oils.

2.Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA):

Poly Unsaturated Fat (PUFA)

Polyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule also called a double bond. Oils containing polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Polyunsaturated fats are also good fats and are beneficial for health. Polyunsaturated fats helps reduce bad cholesterol(LDL and VLDL) levels in blood and lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients for the development and maintenance of body’s cells. Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats also provides vitamin E(which is an antioxidant) to our diet.

Polyunsaturated fat rich oils provide essential fats that your body requires but can’t produce itself like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are very important for our heart and brain.

Sources:
  • PUFA: fish, sesame seed spread ,linseed (flaxseed) and chia seeds, soybean, sunflower, safflower, and canola oil, and margarine spreads made from these oils, pine nuts, walnuts and brazil nuts.
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6: oily fish like tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel, walnuts, linseed (flaxseed), chia seeds, spreads made from canola or soybean.

Bad Fats

1. Saturated Fat:

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are bad fats as it raises the level of cholesterol in blood. Saturated fats are fat molecules that have no double bonds between carbon molecules as they are saturated with hydrogen molecules. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

Saturated Fat Recommended limit:

The American Heart Association recommends a diet which contains 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat.

For example, if you need about 3,000 calories a day, no more than 180 of them should come from saturated fat i.e. about 13 grams of saturated fat per day.

Food having saturated fat: fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat, lard and cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk.

2. Trans Fat:

Trans Fat

Trans Fat is also a bad fat.

There are mainly two types of trans fats: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats. Naturally-occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats. Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created by an industrial processes by adding hydrogen to the liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Trans Fats are also called as partially hydrogenated oils.

Reason for the use of Trans Fat is that Trans fats are easy to use, inexpensive and last a long time. Also, Trans fats give foods desirable taste and texture as desired. Trans fats tends to raise bad cholesterol(LDL and VLDL)  levels and lower good cholesterol(HDL) levels. Trans Fats increases the risk of heart disease and even heart attack. A person eating trans fat regularly may also develop type-2 diabetes.

Foods containing Trans Fat: fried foods like doughnuts, baked goods like cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza, french fries,chips, snacks, fast food, cookies, crackers etc.

So, it is better to stay away from Trans Fats as much as possible.

See Also: Effects of Overcooking

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