The facts about fat
Friday 9 August, 2019
Fats are an essential part of our diet and are important for good health but the type of fat we consume makes a big difference. Excessive amounts of unhealthy fats can increase risk of heart attack and stroke by increasing bad cholesterol, leading to plaque buildup in arteries and potentially leading to a blockage in blood flow. Consuming moderate amounts of healthy fats can decrease this risk by reducing plaque buildup as well as reduce inflammation.
There are three main types of fats out there in the world – some being healthier than others. Starting with the unhealthy fat types that should be limited as much as possible. These are trans fats and saturated fats. Compared to healthy fats which should be consumed in moderation, these are mono and polyunsaturated fats.
Trans fats start off as unsaturated fats but have been processed excessively, changing the chemical structure and how they function in the body. They also occur naturally in small amounts in animal products; however, majority is from processed foods that we consume. Trans fats come from deep fried foods and commercially baked foods, such as pies, cakes and pastries.
Saturated fats are similar to trans fats in that they increase bad cholesterol in the body. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, think butter, coconut oil fatty cuts of meat or highly processed meats such as salami. Highly processed foods also may contain higher amounts of saturated fat including chips, biscuits, deep fried foods, pies, pastries.
Unsaturated fats are grouped into two types: Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 fats that have been shown to help lower blood fats (triglycerides) as well as blood pressure. Omega-3 fats are found in marine, animal and plant sources, such as oily fish, like salmon or sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and omega-3 enriched eggs. Omega-6 fats are found mostly in oils, sunflower and soybean and nuts, including brazil nuts and pecans. These have been shown to lower heart disease risk, when consumed in place of trans or saturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats: This type of fat can assist in increasing good cholesterol in the body and is found in olive oil, canola oil, avocados and nuts such as cashews and almonds – unsalted being the healthier choice.
Fats are essential to keep our body functioning, helping produce hormones, absorb fat soluble vitamins, reduce inflammation and risk of heart disease but we do need to be aware of the different types and what ratios we’re consuming them in.
Get in touch to learn more about dietary fats, heart health or any other nutrition related information.
Fuel Your Life is a nation-wide dietetic company focusing on veteran health and nutrition. We have specific veteran nutrition programs which are bulk-billed for Gold and White card holders and offer in clinic or home visits. Areas we can assist with include weight management, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, sports nutrition, mental health and pain management.
Danielle Rodger, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Business Development Officer, Area Manager (Adelaide) Fuel Your Life
Ph: 0490 542 715