Fat: The three types and what you should know about them
Fat: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
We all need some fat in our diet, but too much and especially too much of
the wrong kind is bad for us. We distinguish three main types of fat in our
diet, saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Saturated Fats, which are usually solid at room temperature , tend
to raise our blood cholesterol levels, increasing our risk of developing atheriosclerosis
(hardening of the arteries), heart disease and stroke. Excess intake of saturated
fats is also associated with certain cancers, diabetes and various other diseases.
Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products, such as meat (including
meat products like sausages, meat pies etc), poultry, eggs, butter, cheese,
unskimmed milk, but also in coconut and palm oil. Palm and coconut oils, though
they don't contain cholesterol, are also saturated, and may cause the body
to produce higher levels of heart-damaging cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated Fats are found in coldwater fish, fish oils,
corn, walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, cottonseeds , linseed oil, flaxseed
oil, safflower oil and corn oil. Polyunsaturated fats do not raise blood cholesterol
in the same way as saturated fats, and are better for your health. Polyunsaturated
fats should be the main type of fat in our diet, as they provide us with essential
fatty acids which are vital for normal development and proper functioning of
the body; they particularly play an important role in maintaining hormonal
balance and immune system function. Especially the Omega 3 Fatty Acids (main
source :fish oils, flax seed oil!!!) have numerous health benefits, which include
prevention of the build up of fatty tissue on artery walls and suppression
of some cancer promoting substances. They also reduce the thickness of the
blood and reduce blood clotting.
Monounsaturated fats are found in almonds, pecans, cashew
nuts, peanuts, and olive, peanut and canola oils). Monounsaturated fats are
also better than saturated fats.
While we may now have a better idea which types of fats are good or bad for
us, it is important to point out that all fats and oils - whether good or bad
- are very high in calories . With 9 kcal per g, fat contains twice as many
calories as carbohydrates or protein, so eating a lot of fat tends to make
you overweight. As already mentioned above, being overweight may not only be
considered ugly, but also increases the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure,
stroke, gallbladder disease, diabetes and many other diseases. Therefore most
researchers advise limiting all fats to less than 30 percent of total daily
calories and avoiding saturated fats as much as possible.
Master of Fitness Sciences
Specialist in Performance Nutrition