Saturday, September 17, 2011

Good Fats Vs Bad Fats: Foods and Diet for Healthy Fat Consumption

Lifestyle experts and nutritionist often warn their patients to limit the intake of fats in their diet. It is however essential to remember that not all fats are unhealthy and that fats are an important source of energy in our diet. Further fats play a essential role in absorption of certain vitamins and nutrients, which are otherwise not available in other foods. Consuming the right foods and limiting the intake of unhealthy fats can prevent a host of lifestyle disorders including obesity, cardiac ailments, hypertension and diabetes.

What is good fat? Are Fats Important?
Fats are an important part of our diet and are necessary to ensure a balanced diet. Fats play a crucial role in absorption of certain essential nutrients, aid in transmission of nerve impulses and contribute in maintaining the integrity of the cellular membrane. Fats are also the most potent source of energy and protect the body against cold and trauma by acting as an insulator.
Though fats in general are essential and beneficial for general health and wellbeing, excessive consumption of fats is associated with obesity and overweight. Further, a diet high in unhealthy fats can also increase the risk of development of cardiovascular disorders and atherosclerosis, hypertension and stroke. Studies have also shown that high levels of fat are associated with increased risk of development of cancer.

Not all fats however are unhealthy and harmful for the body. Consumption of fats, with the primary objective of providing for the body’s energy need and supply of fat soluble vitamins is imperative. It is therefore vital to differentiate between good and bad fats.

Nuts are a great source of
MUFA/ Good Fats
Good Fat: Food and Diet Sources of Healthy Fats
Monounsaturated fats are considered to be good fats. These fats help to reduce the levels of serum cholesterol while boosting the levels of High Density Lipoproteins (HDL), which are considered to be ‘good cholesterol’. On the other hand these fats help reduce the levels of Low Density Lipoproteins which are closed linked with the development of atherosclerosis and cardiac disorders. Some of the good sources of mono-unsaturated fats (MUFAs) include almonds, peanuts, walnuts, avocados and olives.

Similar to Monounsaturated fats, even poly-unsaturated fats (PUFAs) are healthy and contribute towards reducing blood cholesterol and LDL levels. PUFAs contain Omega-3 fatty acids and are found in good quantities in fish liver oils, walnuts and flaxseeds.
Processed foods and Fast
Foods are loaded with
unhealthy fats
Bad Fat: Limit the Intake of Unhealthy Fats
Saturated fatty acids are bad for health. These foods not only increase blood cholesterol levels and result in a drop in HDL and consequent rise in LDL levels. Further, these fats are difficult to be broken down and hence tend to be stored in the body as energy reserves, resulting in obesity. Animal products including eggs, seafood, cow's milk and milk products and meat are considered to be the sources of saturated fats. Coconut oil and Palm oil are also loaded with Saturated Fats.

 The most harmful form of fats is the Trans-fats. With changing life style patterns and over dependence on refined and processed foods, Trans-fats tend to comprise of a large portion of our diet. Trans-fats are found in processed foods like chips, wafers, etc. Hydrogenated oils are also a source of trans-fats which in turn result in increased risk of development of cardiovascular disorders.

How to Bridge the Good Fat and Bad Fat Difference: Good Fats Vs Bad Fats in Diet
here are some tips that can help in reducing the intake of bad and unhealthy fats in the diet and increasing the consumption of healthy fats,
  • Focus on low calorie diet with minimal use of saturated fats
  • Completely limit the intake of saturated and trans-fats. Reduce the consumption of coconut oil, margarine, butter, chips, fried and processed foods, etc in your diet.
  • Increase the intake of MUFAs and PUFAs in your diet. Cook food using olive oil, canola oil or peanut oil, instead of coconut or refined oils.
  • Move to fat free alternatives of processed foods, which are limited in trans-fat components. 

No comments:

Post a Comment