Dietary Fats Explained

Consuming a sound eating regimen all through the life-course assists with forestalling unhealthiness in the entirety of its structures as well as a scope of diseases and conditions. In any case, the expanded creation of handled food varieties, quick urbanization, and changing ways of life have prompted a change in dietary patterns. Individuals are presently devouring more food sources high in energy, fats, free sugars, and salt/sodium, and many individuals don’t eat enough organic products, vegetables, and other dietary fiber like entire grains.

Most foods contain several different kinds of fat. Some are better for your health than others. It is wise to choose healthier types of fat, and enjoy them in moderation. Keep in mind that even healthier fats contain calories and should be used sparingly for weight management. Here is some information about healthy and harmful dietary fats. 

The four major types of fats are: 

  1. Monounsaturated fats

  2. Polyunsaturated fats

  3. Saturated fats

  4. Trans fats 

What are Healthy Fats: 

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known as “healthy fats” because they are good for your heart, cholesterol levels, and overall health. These fats tend to be “liquid” at room temperature. Consider beneficial polyunsaturated fats containing Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts. 

Healthy Dietary Fats

Monounsaturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Olive OIl
Soybean oil
Canola oilCorn oil
Sunflower oilSafflower oil
peanut oilWalnuts
OlivesSunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed
Nuts (almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews)Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, anchovies, sardines, and eel)
Peanut ButterTofu

Tips for increasing healthy fats in your diet:

  1. Cook with olive oil
  2. Plan snacks of nuts or olives 
  3. Eat more avocados 
  4. Dress your own salads instead of using commercial dressings

What about Harmful Fats? 

Saturated fats and trans fats are known as “harmful fats.” They increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature, but they are also found in liquid tropical oils (palm and coconut). Trans fats (partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats) are oils that have been modified for longer shelf life. Trans fats are very bad for you. No amount of trans fats is healthy. 

Harmful Dietary Fats

Saturated FatTrans Fat
High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
Commercially baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, pie crusts
Chicken with the skin
Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
Whole-fat dairy products (cream/milk)Stick margarine
Vegetable shortening
Palm and coconut oil (snack foods, nondairy creamers, whipped toppings)Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)
Ice creamCandy bars
Pre-mixed products (cake mix, pancake mix, chocolate drink mix)

Tips for decreasing harmful fats in your diet: 

  1. Read food labels and avoid trans fats and hydrogenated/ partially hydrogenated oils.
  2. Avoid fried products. 
  3. Avoid fast food. 
  4. When eating out, ask that foods be prepared with olive oil. 

How much fat should I consume? 

According to the WHO, energy intake (calories) should be in balance with energy expenditure. To avoid unhealthy weight gain, total fat should not exceed 30% of total energy intake. Intake of saturated fats should be less than 10% of total energy intake, and intake of trans-fats less than 1% of total energy intake, with a shift in fat consumption away from saturated fats and trans-fats to unsaturated fats, and towards the goal of eliminating industrially-produced trans-fats.

Bottom Line

Choosing foods that contain mostly healthy fats instead of foods that contain mostly saturated fat can help lower your risk of heart disease. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in North America.

The type of fat you eat over time is more important for health than the total amount of fat you eat.

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