Fats Fact: Are All Dietary Fats Bad?
With Christmas and Lunar New year exiting less than 2 months ago, the subconsciousness of being more conscious of what we are eating slowly creeps in. “Do I look fat in this?” “Am I eating too many calories?” “Trans fats? Saturated Fats? – If it is fats, it must be bad.”
Well, fret not! You will be surprised to find out that not all fats are bad. And in fact, fats are essential to our diet.
What are fats?
Fats are a type of macronutrient whose main functions are to provide energy for our body and provide body insulation. They also play a crucial role in protecting our internal organs and maintaining hormonal balance. While all types of fats share the common feature of being the most energy-dense macronutrient (9 calories per gram), not all fats are made to be equal in quality. Fats come in different forms and each type of fat is processed differently by our body. Here are some brief insights into the different types of fats.
The Good fats: Unsaturated fats
There are two main types of unsaturated fats: – Polyunsaturated (Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats) and Monounsaturated fats. Foods such as walnuts, chia seeds and salmon are very rich in omega 3 fats while foods such as avocado, olive oil and almonds have high amounts of monounsaturated fats. Incorporating high unsaturated fat foods in your diet will definitely do wonders to your health. Not only does it promote brain health and cell growth but they also aid in lowering Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL aka the bad cholesterol) cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
Healthy eating starts with a diet rich in whole foods, including sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs, and olive oil. So the next time you reach out for those buttery biscuits, remind yourself that a handful of walnuts will do you and your heart a whole lot more good.
The Bad fats: Saturated fats and Trans fats
Chowing down a steak or tucking away that extra cookies can be self-gratifying or even rewarding after a long and stressful day at work but a high level of saturated fats in your diet has been proven to raise blood lipids which include LDL cholesterol levels and certain other heart disease risk factors, such as inflammation which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
Unlike unsaturated fats, Saturated fats and Trans fats do the exact opposite. The fats are not easily broken down and in the long run, build up in the body.
While diet fads are all the rage these days, it’s always good to read more about the health benefits. When making a choice, make sure to keep these tips in mind.
- Know your food labels. – Many popular processed snack foods are high in fat so be sure to check food labels for saturated and trans fats or to just simplify, snack on whole fruits and vegetables instead.
- Plant-based over Animal. – Just a move from animal-based fats such as butter to canola oil or olive oil will do your heart health a whole lot of good.
- Limit the fats intake. – Consume no more than 5 to 6% of your total daily calories, or no more than 11 to 13g of saturated fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet and avoid Trans fats.
All in all, moderation is always key when it comes to our fat intake. Practice healthy habits by reading food labels and control the necessary food portions to keep you satiated and healthy.