For years public health practitioners have been preaching to banish fats from our diets; emphasizing on how terrible they are. While in recent times it has switched from a complete no, to a more lenient approach to fats, stating ‘low fat’ diets are best.
But is low fat really better than no fat? Or does which types of fat you ingest really make a difference?
This begs the question- Are all fats equal?
Surely if fats are as bad as we are told, completely eradicating them from our diets would be the best thing. But actually, fats are an essential nutrient needed in our diets; they give our bodies energy and help move and absorb certain vitamins into the bloodstream. Dietary fat also plays a role in your managing cholesterol levels, brain development, blood clotting and managing inflammation.
Now I bet you’re thinking that this is great news, now you can eat as many scoops of ice cream and chocolate cake as you like! Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way, fats are a little more complicated than that.
There are actually 3 different types, unsaturated, saturated and trans fats. These could easily be classified into; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Unsaturated fats, or the ‘good’ type of fat mainly comes from fish, nuts, olive oil, and vegetable oil. These “healthy” fats have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and lessen your risk of cardiovascular disease, and certain unsaturated fats provide an essential fatty acid that our bodies need, but can’t make.
Saturated fats could be described as the ‘bad’ source of fat, this type is usually found in animal products like red meat, poultry, and full dairy products. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and increases the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, which could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of developing type 2-diabetes.
Now trans fats would be definitely be classified as the ‘ugly’, most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. By partially hydrogenating oils, they become easier to cook with and are less likely to spoil than naturally occurring oils. Research studies show that these partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase your levels of bad cholesterol and lower your levels of good cholesterol, which could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
In recent times the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol have been on the rise, not to mention an increased risk of developing heart disease. This could be due in part to the types of fat we are choosing’s to ingest, choosing wisely could play a major role in helping to prevent major health problems in the future. Staying away from trans fats and limiting the amount of saturated fats would be a step in the right direction. So the next time you are in the supermarket, remember not all fats are created equal. What you pick up will have an impact on your health.
Become the face of fitness you’ve always wanted to see by remembering the good, the bad and the ugly types of fats.