What do fats do?
We need fat in our body for a number of reasons, including:
- Fuel store – If we eat too much, we store this excess fuel as fat.
- Used in the wall of every cell in our body.
- Physical protection – it can cushion the body from impacts.
- Temperature protection – it can keep the body warm.
- Gets made into various essential vitamins and hormones in the body.
As you can see, fat plays an important part in our lives and we need it. But we can choose what kind of fat we eat and where it comes from. We are going to cover 3 main types of fat:
- Unsaturated fat
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
- The “good” fats
- Can improve blood cholesterol levels
- Ease inflammation
- Stabilise heart rhythms
- Mostly comes from plant sources
- Mostly liquid at room temperature
- The “bad” fats
- Can raise levels of bad LDL cholesterol
- Excess levels are associated with various health conditions
- Aim to reduce levels and swap for high fibre carbs or unsaturated fats
- Mostly comes from animal sources
- Mostly a solid at room temperature
- Raise levels of bad LDL cholesterol
- Lowers levels of good HDL cholesterol
- Creates inflammation associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes etc
- Contributes to insulin resistance
- No known health benefits
- Mostly from “man made” or industrial processes
This is an oversimplification, but you can think of trans fats as coming from “man made” and various processed foods.
- Eating fat is not bad for us, but eating too much of the wrong kind, is.
- Get the majority of your fats from healthy unsaturated oils from plant based foods.
- Limit the amount of unhealthy saturated fats from animal based foods.
- Try to eliminate entirely the very bad trans fats from man-made processed foods.
- Be aware, many processed foods labelled as “low fat” have had their fat content replaced with simple carbohydrate sugars.
- Choose quality fats.
So do your best to get your fats mostly from unsaturated sources, save saturated fats for your occasional treats and try to eliminate trans fats from your diet.
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