Understanding Different Types of Fat
Fats are essential to any healthy diet. However, fats are not all created equal. To make sure you stay as healthy as possible, it’s important to eat healthy fats in small amounts as part of your balanced diet. However, all fats – healthy or not – will contribute to weight gain if eaten in large amounts. Fats contain more kilojoules than proteins and carbohydrates, so limiting fat is likely to help your weight-loss efforts. Furthermore, consuming less saturated and trans fats may even help reduce your risk of heart disease. Check labels and choose products that are low in saturated and trans fats or better yet, stick to a variety of whole, natural foods.
People who eat more saturated fats are more likely to develop high cholesterol and heart disease. These are the fats that are typically solid at room temperature and are found in butter, cream, fatty meats, and many packaged foods such as pizza, snack foods, deep-fried takeaway foods, and cakes, pies, and pastries.
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that behave like saturated fats because of the way they have been processed. Trans fats wreak havoc on cholesterol levels, raising “bad” cholesterol and lowering “good” cholesterol – a major heart disease risk. You find trans fats in lots of packaged and processed foods, so it’s extremely important to read labels and keep your consumption of trans fats to a minimum – or avoid them entirely.
It’s important to include unsaturated fats in your diet because these fats offer numerous health benefits including lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. They can easily replace saturated fats in the diet without sacrificing flavour or functionality in the kitchen. Unsaturated fats are found in foods such as olive, canola, and safflower oil; nuts such as almonds, cashews, and brazil nuts; avocados; and oily fish.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that naturally occurs in both food and our blood. It has several important functions but having too much of the wrong type of cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Not that long ago, it was believed that eating too many foods that contained cholesterol such as eggs contributed to a high level of blood cholesterol. However, we know now that foods that contain a lot of saturated and trans fats have a much greater impact on blood cholesterol levels.