Everybody talks about fats in food and how you should take less of them because they can badly affect your health, but the thing is that we always find fats in organic sources as much as we find them in bad sources(processed food for example).
Also, fats are one of the three main macronutrients means our bodies need them to function, and still, they are known for causing some health issues and we always read on how much we should avoid them, however many diets rely on fats for weight loss or better health in general.
This article takes a detailed look at fats and what makes them good or bad.
What are fats
As I already mentioned before fats are one of the three main macronutrients, they are hydrophobic means they are soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water. Fats include cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides.
There are 2 categories of fats in food:
Saturated and trans fats: Saturated fats occur naturally in many foods like animal sources, including meat and dairy products. Trans fats in food can also be naturally-occurring but we find them more artificial in other types of food such as processed food.
Natural trans fats can be found in animal sources and artificial trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats): Tend to be liquid at room temperature, monounsaturated fats mostly found in oils, nuts, and avocado when polyunsaturated fats can be divided into 2 types:
omega-3 fatty acids:
and omega-6 fatty acids:
They’re found in fish, soybeans, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
How these types of fats can affect your health:
Trans fats in food:
Taking trans fats food can cause a lot of health problems such as:
Trans fats increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and decrease the beneficial HDL (good cholesterol) which can lead to some serious heart problems according to a study.
Some experimental studies support the hypothesis that high intakes of trans fatty acids may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, but it is still a little early to draw definitive conclusions at this time and other studies are needed to support this.
Lawrence L. Rudel, Ph. D., professor of pathology and biochemistry and head of the Lipid Sciences said that eating food that is rich in trans fat can lead to higher body weight by causing the fat tissue to redistribute into the abdomen even when the total dietary calories are controlled.
A study showed that breast cancer risk increased with the increase of taking trans-fatty acid from processed food consumption. Also, women with elevated levels of trans fatty acid in their blood have double the risk of developing breast cancer as compared to women with lower levels.
A study from the US suggests that an increased intake of trans fatty acids may increase the risk of colorectal tumors by about 86 percent.
The Bottom line here is: trans fatty acids are the bad kind of fat.
Some sources of trans fats:
Like trans fats consumption may cause some health problems:
– According to a study, saturated fats in food increase the concentration of LDL cholesterol also known as bad cholesterol in the bloodstream which can heighten the risk of heart disease.
Note that saturated fats are not the only cause of heart disease, the causes are usually multifactorial.
But the thing is that we can find saturated fats in some healthy options such as coconut, dark chocolate, a small amount in olives and nuts. So they’re not as bad as trans fats and there’s no need to cut them all out from your diet, most nutrition experts recommend limiting it to 10% of your daily calories.
Some sources of saturated fats:
On the other hand
Monounsaturated fats can:
Some studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids from plant sources instead of animal sources or of saturated fats can improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Some sources of monounsaturated fats:
Polyunsaturated fats in food:
(omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids) : our bodies need them but can’t produce them, and they are good for:
– Pregnancy and fetal development:
Studies show that taking polyunsaturated fats food especially DHA during pregnancy promotes healthy brain and eye development and may reduce the risk of preterm birth.
Another study suggests that Polyunsaturated fats supplementation can improve memory function in non-demented older adults.
-Preventing heart disease:
There is some evidence on the protective effect of Polyunsaturated fats on lowering your risk of heart disease by reducing bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
Some sources of polyunsaturated fats:
So monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the good kind of fat.
Even though this type of fats is good and important and consuming natural monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats do not cause any risk (unless if you’re allergic to them), you should always consider limiting your intake to the daily recommendations (no more than 25% to 30%) depending on your daily calories.
If you’re taking polyunsaturated fats supplements and happen to eat more fish or nuts during the day the daily intake of polyunsaturated fats will increase and that may cause some side effects such as:
- Fats in food can be bad or good depending on their type.
- Trans fats are bad especially from processed food
- Saturated fat can be bad but we find it in some good food options so it’s fine if we eat it but it’s recommended that we limit it to 10% of our daily calories.
- Unsaturated fats are good which are divided to :
- Monounsaturated fats best if they’re from plant sources may decrease the risk of heart diseases and diabetes type 2.
- And polyunsaturated fats are very good for our brains and especially during pregnancy for our fetal development.