Not all fats are bad. Fats are an essential food group along with protein and carbohydrates. Good fats are essential to our health and the optimal function of our body. Healthy fats surround our internal organs to protect them; gives our body energy; keep us warm; help produce essential hormones; helps our body easily absorb other nutrients; keeps our skin, hair and nail healthy, and provides us with essential fatty acids. Cutting out essential fats from your diet is a no-go, however, be careful not to confuse healthy fats with fats that may have a negative effect on your health. There are two main groups of fats: saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats
Saturated fats promote heart health, reduce your blood cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart- and cardiovascular disease. You should be including these fats into your diet, in moderation. Olive oil, nuts, and avocados are all sources of monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats are found mostly in seeds, nuts, and fish, and contain essential omega 3 oils that are found in fish. Omega 3 oils also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Saturated fats are contained in animal products
For example meat, poultry, full-fat dairy products and eggs. Saturated fats are known to be solid at room temperature. Foods that are high in saturated fats include coconuts, palm oil, butter, animal fats, chocolate, cheese, cream and processed meat. Saturated fats should be avoided as they could increase the risk of heart disease, clog arteries and increase blood cholesterol levels.
There are two kinds of trans fats or trans unsaturated fatty acids
There are those that are naturally present in small amounts in some foods like dairy and meat, and those that are artificially produced from vegetable fats and added to a variety of foods, known as partially hydrogenated oils. Naturally occurring trans fats are not the problem – we should be more concerned with the artificially produced trans fats that are ever more present in some of the foods we buy every day.
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle and our ongoing need for more tastier food that last longer for convenience, trans fatty acids can be found in most of the foods on supermarket shelves. Looking at a food label, trans fatty acids can be identified by “partially hydrogenated oils”. Foods like baked and fried goods, cookies, ice cream, crackers, packaged snacks, microwave popcorn, and fast foods all contain large amounts of trans fats.
Fast food chains and food manufacturers use trans fats to make food tastier and to keep it fresher for longer on supermarket shelves to the detriment of the public’s health. Trans fats are known to increase the risk of heart disease and strokes by increasing bad cholesterol levels and decreasing good cholesterol levels. Trans fats are also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So all in all, the worst kind of fat and the one that you should stay away from as much as possible, are trans fats.
The biggest difference between saturated and trans fats is that saturated fats are naturally occurring in animal products, whereas trans fats are artificially created and added to the foods we eat. Both trans and saturated fats negatively affect our health by increasing the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease.
Good fats are essential to your health. To decrease the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, consume more unsaturated fats and stay away from trans and saturated fats as much as possible. To learn more about optimal nutrition, enroll for Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Specialised Nutrition Course today! Click here to find out more.