Now “fat” is one fat word, isn’t it? People have this awesome reaction to the very word and attribute problems like obesity, heart disease and cholesterol to the consumption of fatty food. Nevertheless, fats have always been an essential part of our diet and there is a reason behind it. It is very important for us to know what fat really means and why we need fats as well for a healthy body. There are 4 types of fats namely, Monounsaturated Fats ( MUFa), the Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFa), Saturated fats and Trans Fats.
The Mono Unsaturated Fats (MUFa) are healthy fats and the body receives them from foods like peanuts, walnuts, almonds and olive oil. These fats increase the good cholesterol levels in the body, surprisingly aid in weight loss and lower risk of heart diseases. PolyUnsaturated Fats (PUFa) are the healthiest fats available. They are abundantly present in many foods like Seafood, oils of Sunflower, corn, flaxseed and canola oil. Omega-3 fats are fall under Poly Unsaturated Fats and are essential fatty acids meaning our body cannot make them. Omega-3 fats are also available in very few foods. PUFa also help reduce bad cholesterol in the body and Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory and hence reduce inflammation and pain in the body, reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer. For vegetarians, Omega-3 fats are practically unavailable in their diets and hence they should consume Omega-3 supplements which are widely available in the market today.
Saturated fats are solids at room temperature and are present in animal and dairy products like red meat, eggs and certain sea foods. These fats are not good for one’s health as they increase the bad cholesterol levels (known as LDL). Foods containing vegetable oils like coconut oil, palm oil etc also are rich in saturated fats. Our body can synthesize enough saturated fats for its normal functioning from the food that we eat. What this also means is we do not have to consume foods containing saturated fats thinking that they are essential fats. The most harmful fats of all are the Trans fats which are basically hydrogenated version of vegetable oils. This type of fats is used in most bakery products, chips, crackers, margarine, fried foods etc which need to be preserved for an uncertain period and have to be saved from spoiling. Though trans fats are a blessing for food manufacturing companies, it is definitely very harmful for us. They not only increase the risk of heart diseases and reduce good cholesterol levels, but also are very fattening and can cause a host of other fat related problems.
Fats are essential in order to maintain vital functions in organs of the human body viz. the brain, lungs, heart, nerves, stomach etc. The right amount of fats in the body can do more good than harm. By including good fats and removing saturated fats and trans fat based foods from our diet, we can be assured of protection against cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers (liver, breast etc), depression and even memory loss.
Eating natural fats in a limited amount can help you feel less hungry and help in maintaining your sugar levels better. Since you are less hungry you won't reach for those bag of fat free chips. So moderation and natural fats can keep you healthy than eating a lot more of artificially modified fats which can mislead you to think you are eating less fat but you might not get all the benefits of good old natural fats from them. After going around the whole circle of diets and fat free foods, I have come to the conclusion, eat less fat but eat natural than a whole lot of artificial fats which are not good in the long run.