“Put that down! It’s full of fats and is not good for you!” “You should completely eliminate fats for a healthier lifestyle.” We often hear these lines or something similar when it comes to food that contain fats. Fats are an essential part of our complete diet as it provides calories, help you absorb vitamins and give essential nutrients that your body needs to function. There are certain group of fats that are essential for a healthy working of the heart, whereas there are certain groups of fat which should be taken in moderation or not at all. Knowing the difference between good fats and bad fats can help you decide which fats to avoid, and which to eat in moderation.
These types of fats come under good fats for your body and have various health benefits. Unsaturated fats have double bonds in their chemical formation. Monounsaturated fatty acids, otherwise known as MUFAs, signifies that these fats have only one double bond. MUFAs can help reduce the risk of heart diseases when it replaces saturated fats by reducing blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Studies have also shown that diets that are high in MUFA can help reduce inflammation.
Foods that are High in MUFA
Polyunsaturated fats, such as MUFAs are good fats for the body. They are usually liquid at room temperature and are often known as oils. If the molecule has more than one double bond, it is known as polyunsaturated fats. These fats are rich in omega 3-fatty acids and omega 6-fatty acids. These fatty acids are very important for brain function and need to be included in our diets as our body cannot produce them. These fats help improve heart health and infant development. Overconsumption of these fats can lead to inflammation and concentrated calories, so make sure you consume these in moderation.
Foods that are High in Omega 3-Fatty Acid & Omega 6-Fatty Acid
- Flaxseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
Saturated fats, unlike unsaturated fats do not have a double bond. In other words, saturated fatty acids have their carbon atoms completely infused with hydrogen (H) atoms. These fats are usually solid at room temperature. According to studies, consuming saturated fats can increase levels of cholesterol in blood stream. This could put your heart at a greater risk of diseases. Although, it is said to increase both LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol), hence when taken in low amounts, it is not as bad as one might think.
Foods that are High in Saturated Fats
- Fatty cuts of red meat such as beef, pork and lamb
- Whole milk
- Coconut oil
- Cocoa butter
- Ice cream
Artificial trans fats or moderately hydrogenated fats are bad fats and are very unhealthy for your body. These fats are chemically amended to stay right at ambient temperature, for longer shelf life. Consuming artificial trans fat has many health risks such as increased LDL levels, excess inflammation, increased risk of diabetes and high blood sugar levels. These fats must be completely avoided in order to ensure healthy functioning of the heart and body.
Foods that are High in Trans Fats
- Vegetable shortening and margarines
- Fried fast foods
- Bakery products
- Frozen pizza
- Non-dairy coffee creamers
- Canned frosting
- Microwaveable popcorn
- Refrigerated dough products