Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
We have been told for such a long time that fat is “bad” then all of a sudden everyone is talking about “healthy fat”. What are we supposed to believe? The facts are that there are a wide range of fats and parts of our body need fats to function. Did you know that your brain is 60% fat?
Fats are classified into 4 different groups: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats.
Saturated fats contribute to cardiovascular diseases (such as heart disease and stroke) as they raise LDL cholesterol.
Saturated fats can be found in everyday foods such as dairy products, fatty cuts of meat, processed meats and lard. Unlike other foods, these foods contain other nutrients such as proteins, minerals and vitamins that have other benefits. Saturated fats can also be found in many discretionary foods and drinks such as takeaway ‘fast’ foods and in biscuits and pastries.
Trans fats also have the ability to lower HDL cholesterol making them even more damaging when consumed.
Trans fats are rare in nature; they are only created in the stomach of cows and sheep. Trans fats are found in small amounts in cheese, milk beef and lamb. Trans fats are present more in abundance in the manufacture of baked goods such as pies, cakes, pastries, biscuits which is where you should be more concerned about consuming trans fats.
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to lower LDL cholesterol when replacing saturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats have a slightly greater impact than monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats can be divided into 2 categories: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. Omega-3 fats are found in plant and marine foods and have the strongest evidence for health benefits.
Omega-3 benefits include:
- lowering triglyceride levels and reducing blood pressure
- improving blood vessel elasticity
- may prevent a role in preventing and treating depression
- support immune function and a reduction of inflammation
- support blood making it less sticky and less likely to clog
- contribute to foetal brain development
Some foods that are highest in Omega-3 fats include:
Some non-animal sources include:
- flaxseed oil
- chia seeds
- pumpkin seeds
It is important to include a source of omega 3 fats in every meal as this supports brain health, cardiovascular health and makes you feel fuller for longer.