Even though fats are generally high in calories, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all types of fats are bad for health and for weight loss.
Different types of fats
There are different types of fats, namely trans fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. These fats are found in the foods that we consume daily. But which ones are healthy and which ones should we avoid? Here’s a basic breakdown.
Trans fats are regarded as the most harmful type of fat as it goes through hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that adds hydrogen to unsaturated fats. Foods that contain trans fats tend to have a longer shelf life. They are usually found in junk- and convenience foods such as in commercially baked foods (for example cakes and biscuits).
Look out for word ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ on food labels before making purchases.
These fats can be consumed sparingly and are found in animal products such as fatty meats and whole milk. Saturated fats are also found in some vegetable oils such as palm and coconut oils.
Consuming too much of this type of fat increases one’s risk of heart disease and could also lead to obesity. Rather include these fats as a component of a balanced diet instead of making them the focus.
Polyunsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids which play an important role in our body. They help to maintain good blood circulation by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. They also improve nerve function, maintain immunity and decrease inflammation. Essential fatty acids also play a role in metabolism and brain function.
These fats can be found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna. Seeds as well as seed oils are also good sources of polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats are regarded as one of the healthiest of all fats. They can be found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. These fats are believed to boost good cholesterol levels whilst lowering that of bad cholesterol. The Mediterranean diet is largely based on this type of fat and thus is very popular.
Chat to your doctor or a dietician if you need to know more about fats or need advice on how better to add them to your current diet.