Your body needs some fat, a type of food, for energy, to absorb vitamins, and to safeguard the health of your heart and brain, just like it does with protein and carbohydrates. We have been warned for years that eating fat will result in an increase in cholesterol, an increase in waistline measurements, and a host of other health issues. We now understand that not all fat is created equal, though. Your ability to manage your moods, stay sharp mentally, combat weariness, and even maintain weight control is greatly aided by good fats. Understanding the distinction between healthy and unhealthy fats and learning how to increase the amount of healthy fat in your diet will help you feel better mentally and physically, have more energy, and even lose weight. (Also read: Why fats are your blood sugar’s best friend? Know from expert )
“There is often a lot of confusion around healthy fats. Many people consider adding dairy including butter, coconut oil, and eggs, as well as avocado, nuts and seeds to meals as a source of ‘healthy fat’. The truth is, dairy is not considered a healthy fat. Nor is coconut or any coconut products. These are saturated fats, which are a type of fat that shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts as they have a negative impact on health. Dairy is a bit more of a grey area though, because while the fat in dairy is saturated (bad) fat, research has suggested the fat in dairy does not contribute to the same health risks as other unsaturated fats. Therefore, while it is not considered a healthy fat, it is not unhealthy either it’s considered ‘neutral’ on heart health”, says Liesl Rozario, Dietitian and Nutrition Coach in her Instagram post.
She further says, “Eggs contain mostly unsaturated fats as well as saturated fat and they also have a neutral relationship with heart health and the Heart Foundation no longer has a recommendation on the maximum you should have per week. If you are looking to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet, stick to nuts, seeds and nut/seed oils, avocado, nut, butter and fatty fish.”
What are healthy fats?
Unsaturated fats aka ‘healthy fats’ help reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and overall mortality. There are two main forms of unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These differ in their chemical structure and they have slightly different health benefits as a result.
- Monounsaturated fats – include olive, canola, sesame, safflower & peanut oils, avocado, some nuts, e.g. cashews, almonds, some seeds and peanut butter.
- Polyunsaturated fats – These mainly include two types of omega fats first is omega-3 fats such as oily fish, walnuts, chia seeds and soybean. The other is omega- 6 fats which can be found in foods such as sunflower, soybean & sesame oils, nuts and sunflower seeds.
- Saturated fats– high amounts of these in the body increase the risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol levels. It includes food such as dairy, coconut products, fries, cakes etc.
- Trans fats: these are unsaturated fats that have been processed and as a result, behave like saturated fats. Increasing ‘bad’ cholesterol and decreasing ‘good’ cholesterol in the body determines a major risk factor for heart disease. The main source of it is butter and packaged foods.