Understanding the Different Types of Fats

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Fat is considered a type of nutrient. You need some fat in your diet but not in excessive amounts. However, not all fats are the same. There are good and bad fats and you have to carefully choose the right kind to include in your diet.

Dietary fats are essential to the body, as they provide the body with energy to support cellular growth. In addition, fats help protect organs in the body and keep the body warm. Fats are also essential in the absorption of some nutrients and the production of certain hormones in the body.

What are the Different Types of Fats?

There are four major types of dietary fats found in food. These are the saturated fats, trans fat, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. The four types of fat have different physical properties and chemical structures.

Saturated and trans fat, known as the bad fats, tend to be more solid when placed in room temperature. However, the other types of fat, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats adopt a liquid form at room temperature.

Different types of fats have different effects on the body, especially on the body’s cholesterol levels. The saturated and trans fat can raise LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the blood. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated can lower the bad cholesterol levels in the body. The good types of fats should be consumed as part of a healthy dietary regimen.

Unsaturated Fats – The Good Type of Fats

Unsaturated fats are considered the good types of fat, as they improve the blood cholesterol levels. In addition, this type of fats also stabilizes heart rhythms and reduces inflammation. This type of fats is commonly found in plants like nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

What Types of Food Contain Unsaturated Fats?

The two types of unsaturated fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are commonly found in olive, canola and peanut oils, avocados, nuts like hazelnuts, pecans and almonds, and seeds like sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, are found in soybean, corn, flaxseed, sunflower oils, walnuts, fish, and canola oil.

Most people fail to eat foods that are high in unsaturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, 10 percent of the daily caloric intake should come from polyunsaturated fat. With taking the recommended amount of polyunsaturated fats, the risk of developing heart diseases can be significantly reduced.

Saturated Fats – The Bad Type of Fats

Saturated fats are known as the bad type of fats. This type of fat is commonly found in animal foods. However, some plant foods also contain high concentrations of saturated fats like coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and palm oil.

According to the standard dietary guidelines, less than 10 percent of a person’s daily caloric intake should come from saturated fats. In addition, the American Heart Association recommends the intake of saturated fats of no more than 7 percent of the daily caloric intake.

Replacing Bad Fats with the Good Kind of Fats

It is more beneficial if saturated fats are replaced with the good types of fats, especially polyunsaturated fats. Eating good fats instead of bad fats can lower the bad cholesterol levels in the body, reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition, eating good fats can also prevent insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes.

What Kind of Fat is Trans Fat?

Trans fats are created through heating liquid vegetable oils in a process known as hydrogenation. Hydrogenation requires the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst. When you partially hydrogenate vegetable oils, you make it more stable and less likely to go bad or rancid. The same process can convert oil into something more solid like margarine.

Oils that have undergone the hydrogenation process can withstand repeated heating without breaking down, making them ideal for frying foods. For the same reason, partially hydrogenated oils are commonly found in restaurants and fast food chains.

Partially hydrogenated oils are the only source of trans fat. This type of fat is also naturally occurring in beef fat and dairy fat.

Why is Trans Fat Bad for Your Health?

Trans fat is bad for the cholesterol levels because this type of fat can raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, this type of fat is also associated with heart diseases, diabetes, stroke and other conditions, as it can create inflammation and contribute to insulin resistance.

Even in small amounts, trans fat is harmful to the body. In fact, two percent of calories from trans fat on a daily basis can increase the risk of coronary artery disease up to 23 percent.

On Fats and Healthy Dietary Regimen

Eating foods that contain fat is part of a healthy dietary regimen. Many people are confused with this, as they think that all types of fats are bad for the health. In your quest for a healthier dietary regimen, you have to remember to choose your foods wisely and opt for those that contain good types of fats instead of the bad fats. Moreover, you should also consider a number of calories that you eat and a number of calories that you burn should be well balanced.

In formulating a healthy dietary regimen, you should aim for a diet containing more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The diet should include low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, and legumes. You should also limit the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, processed foods, sweets, and sodium. This type of diet is low in both trans fats and saturated fats.

Eating healthy does not mean that you have to give up on your favorite foods. You can still include the foods that you love but be mindful about its fat contents. You should consider replacing bad fats with good fats.

You can still enjoy the occasional indulgence of your favorite foods and sweet desserts, as long as you limit your intake. You have to make sure it does not exceed the daily dietary recommendations.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/types-of-fats-topic-overview#1

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Fats-101_UCM_304494_Article.jsp#.V_eR_eV97Mw

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