Types of Fats and Sources: A Quick Guide to the Healthy Vs Unhealthy
One of the main micro nutrients other than the carbohydrates and protein is the fat. However, fat is essentially a nutrient, which is a critical thing for your body. It is a source of energy and also helps other nutrient to appropriately carry out their job. They are soluble in the organic solvents and remain insoluble in water. However, fats are known by a range of other terms. Here are some.
- Vegetable Fats: Vegetable fats can be found in flax seed, peanut oil, olive oil and corn oil.
- Oils: We know Oils don’t mix with water and hence oil fat is the fat that stays in the liquid form at room temperature.
- Lipids: Another common term that is confused for fat. Lipids are the all the types of fats that are available, solid or liquid.
- Animal Fat: the ones in the butter, cream and the fat in the oil is the animal fat.
However, the different fats that you consume in the many forms are stored in the body for a variety of reasons. Fats are triglycerides and lipids are another term that is referred to them. However, lipids need not necessarily be triglycerides. Triglyceride is an ester that is formed from glycerol and also from the three fatty acids. They are the main ingredients of natural fats and oils.
How are Fats Formed?
Fat formation can be explained easily. The fatty acids in the body are generally long in what is known as the straight chain carboxylic acid. When these three fatty acid molecules come in contact with the glycerol and react, it gives rise to triglycerides. Thus, this fat that is in the body is stored and also sent as triglycerides.
Different Types of Fat and Their Effect on Body:
Take a look at some vital information about fats that are good for you to know.
1. Saturated Fats:
Out of the different kinds of fats, saturated fat is the first one to look into. Saturated fats are the ones that are solid in the room temperature and are often known as solid fats. Each of the molecules of the fat is covered in hydrogen atoms and is thus referred to as saturated. Consuming too much of saturated fat can result in health risk that can potentially be threatening to life.
What do They Do?
Saturated fats increase the cholesterol level in the body. An increase in the cholesterol level means an increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
Where are They Found?
Expect to find the saturated fat in your meat, dairy products, poultry items and other processed food like cakes, pastries, palm oil, coconut oil and the bag of chips you love. However, even your healthy food will contain some dose of saturated food and thus eliminating them entirely is difficult. Researchers and doctors recommend a diet that will extract less than 10 % of calories from saturated food. That being said, it is also healthy to cut down on your pizza and cheese, grain-based desserts, whole milk and reduced fat milk.
How do They Affect Your Body?
Due to the different chemical structure of saturated fat, they are known to affect your body differently. This fat is made of fatty acid chains that are saturated with hydrogen molecules with no spacing between them. This tightly packed chain makes it hard for the body to break down. Thus, they get stored in the body as fats in the adipose tissue.
Your ideal healthy replacement to the saturated fat could be a handful of nuts, avocado, beans and green vegetables.
Pros: Diets high in saturated fat will give your body ample energy that will slowly convert cellular fuel as needed. This will keep the blood sugar level stable. Thus, your craving for sugar and carbs are efficiently curbed.
Cons: The main setback of involving too much in saturated fat food is the increase in level of cholesterol in the blood. Thus, higher levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
2. Unsaturated Fats:
Unsaturated fats comprise of the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are liquid at room temperature and their source is from mostly plant oils. Unsaturated fats are classified as the ‘good fat’. Vegetable oils, peanut oil, sunflower oil soybean oil and corn oil are the main sources of unsaturated fats.
Types of Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fat comes from plant food that includes nuts and seeds. Here are the two types of good fat.
a. Monounsaturated Fats: You can find high amounts of monounsaturated fats in avocados, nuts like almonds and hazelnuts, seeds like pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds and other oils like canola oil, peanut oils and olive oils. Monounsaturated foods are known to lower the bad or LDL cholesterol level. They thus lower the heart disease keeping you safe from stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. They are also sources of nutrients that helps in maintaining the cells of the body
b. Polyunsaturated Fats: Polyunsaturated fats are found in flaxseed oils, corn oil and sunflower oil, walnuts, flax seeds and even in fish. The omega 3 fat is an important nutrient for the body that is rich in anti-oxidant properties and these must essentially come from food as the body cannot produce them. Fish has abundance of omega 3 and thus eating them for about two to three times a week is a healthy way to include them in your intake of healthy diet. The American Heart Association research team suggests that about 8 to 10 percent of your calorie needs to come from consumption of polyunsaturated fat to lower the risk of any heart disease. They are also known to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
What Food should You Include?
For your body to get an adequate dose of unsaturated fat, include the following to your diet chart.
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachio
- Mono-rich food like avocado, olives
- Oils like olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and olive oil
- For your good dose of omega-3 try the halibut, sable fish and mackerel for about 2-3 times a week.
- Seeds like pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Pros: Helps lower the risk of cholesterol in your blood, thus preventing any heart disease or stroke. They also help in weight loss and rich in vitamin E.
Cons: While there are no major cons of eating monounsaturated fats when eaten in moderate quantities, excess consumption can lead to health diseases and deposits of fat in the body. This way, monounsaturated fats are the advantageous ‘good fat’ for your body. Your best sources of fat come from here!
3. Trans-fat: Trans-fat is a kind of fatty acid. Fatty acid is a carboxylic acid and it has a long aliphatic acid. This can be saturated or unsaturated. Trans-fats are further classified into two:
a. Naturally-Occurring Trans-Fats: Naturally occurring trans-fats are the milk, meat etc. that are produced in the gut of animals, and subsequently the food made from them. They are known to contain small quantities of these fats.
b. Artificial Trans-Fats: These are also known as Trans fatty acids. They are created through industrial process where hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils in order to make them solid and firm.
What Effects do They Have on Your Body?
Trans-fats are found in a variety of foods and are the ‘bad fat’ like the saturated ones. Just like the saturated fats, they increase the LDL cholesterol in the blood. They are also capable of decreasing the good HDL cholesterol, thus increasing the level of triglycerides. You can expect a good quantity of trans-fat in meat, cheese, cream, lamb, pork and also beef.
Through the process of partial hydrogenation, industrial trans-fats are processed too. The process is known to solidify and also partially harden vegetable oil, one that is useful in the making of baked food and fried food.
When you heat the oil in high temperature to fry, trans-fat is produced in the oil and thus your donuts and other sweet food sometimes put their share of contributing to the trans-fat in your body.
Here are some ways that you can chart out a trans-fat free food and thus maintain healthy eating habits.
Like processed food? Then look out for ones that are made with unhydrogenated oil rather than opting for hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Limiting the frequency of eating donuts, pastries, muffins, pies and cakes is another way to restrict trans-fat entering your body.
Intake of a rich bowl of fruits and other power-packed veggies along with whole grain, poultry, fish and nuts can be an ideal way for you to start a healthy life style.
Using margarine in place of butter and adopting 0 gram trans-fat product on the nutrition label is also a good choice.
Pros: They are inexpensive and hence are a popular choice in many companies. They are also known to last a long time.
Cons: They decrease the good fat of the body and increase the LDL cholesterol levels which has the potential to affect the health of your heart and thereby cause stroke or other cardiovascular diseases.
What do Fats do to Your Body?
- Of all, it is going to hurt your heart. Fats can trigger LDL level or the bad cholesterol in the body and you may thus fall prey to cardiovascular diseases.
- It is known to trigger diabetes. This is a vicious circle essentially. When you are overweight, it affects the insulin hormone in the body. This will trigger diabetes and diabetes can increase the risk of your heart disease.
- When you have a lot of fat, you tend to put on a lot of excess weight. Being overweight can put you in sleeping disorder and the most dangerous of all is sleep apnea. With this, the person tends to stop breathing in sleep reducing the supply of oxygen which in turn will affect the heart and blood vessels.
- On the positive side, it can keep you warm in biting cold. Fat now acts more like an insulator!
- It also stored energy. In times of hunting and gathering, this stored energy often came to their rescue.
Well, that certainly means there are some healthy sources of fat for your body. The different fats that are there are known to work differently on the body and affect the body in different ways. Therefore, it is essential to know the kind of fat your body is taking in and watch out for the ones you pick and dump in your food basket. For a change, try out our healthy supplements and you will see the results evidently.