THE TRUTH ABOUT FAT
Fat, like every single thing in this world, can be either good for you or bad for you. It just depends on how much you know about it, and what exactly you do with it. I too was planted with the “all fat is evil” weed and boy, did it take some pulling to set me free from it.
For many years, there have been intellectual wars on fat consumption around the world. In spite of all these, heart diseases, obesity and type 2 diabetes are still on the increase. And sadly, supposed “low-fat diets” don’t seem to produce the desired results either. Could our dieticians, health professionals, and governments be misleading us?
Here is the ultimate truth: In as much as fat is essential to our health because it supports a good number of our bodily functions, there are fats that need to be avoided and there are fats that need embracing in our diets.
For starters, let us get to know the different types of fats, bearing in mind that the human body has the ability to make its own fat from taking in extra calories.
- UNSATURATED FATS: These fats are predominantly found in foods from plants, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. These are generally beneficial because they stabilize heart rhythms, improve blood cholesterol levels and ease inflammations among others.
This fat type, which is potentially helpful dietary fat, is sub divided into two kinds:
Monounsaturated fats, when eaten, specifically improve blood cholesterol levels which decrease a person’s risk of heart diseases. They also help to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. Monounsaturated fats can be found in high concentrations in foods and oils such as avocados, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oils, canola and peanut oils.
The latter fat type can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, trout and herrings, flax seeds, walnuts, soybean oils, as well as sunflower and corn oils. Polyunsaturated fats, like monounsaturated fats, help to reduce cholesterol levels. They also contribute to Vitamin E in our diets and provide nutrients that help to develop and maintain our body cells.
An important type of polyunsaturated fat is the Omega 3 fat. Whereas the human body can make most of the types of fat it needs from other fats or raw materials, Omega 3 fats (also known as omega-3 fatty acids and n-3 fats) are quite special. They are special because they form integral parts of cell membranes in the body and provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls and inflammation. Fish high in Omega 3 fats include sardines, tuna, salmon, trout and herring. Plant sources include ground flaxseed, canola and soybean oils as well as walnuts, butternuts and sunflower.
- SATURATED FATS: Saturated fats are those fats which are found mainly in animal foods such as poultry, red meat, and full-fat dairy products. They are the fats which occur naturally in many foods; the kind that you should know to eat in moderation. In the United States of America, the biggest sources of saturated fats in diets include cookies and other grain-based desserts, whole and reduced-fat milk, butter and dairy desserts, pizza, burgers and most baked and fried foods.
It is necessary to note that constantly eating foods which are high in saturated fats are usually high in cholesterol and may raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
- TRANS FATS: This fat type is also referred to as Trans Fatty Acids. It is the kind of fat which is described by many doctors as the worst type of fat a person can eat. This is because it does not only “behave” like a saturated fat because of its chemical structure but it increases the “bad” LDL cholesterol in a person’s body while decreasing the “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood. A combination of the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels increases the risk of heart diseases.
The following are major sources of Trans fats in our diets: foods that are deep fried – chicken, fries, etc., ready- made frosting, most baked goods, canned biscuits, frozen pizza crusts, microwave popcorn, potato and tortilla chips, non-dairy creamers and stick margarines.
Hopefully, this article has dug out the “all fat is evil” weed from you too. Be careful what fats you choose to consume from now onward. Remember, “Fat”, like every single thing in this world, can be either good for you or bad for you. It just depends on how much you know about it, and what exactly you do with it.