Are fats good for you? If they are the right ones, then yes!
Fats are necessary for the proper function of our body, as they are a structural part of cell membranes, precursors of many hormones, they help in the absorption of minerals and vitamins, and are a strong energy source. Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body's functions. Some vitamins, for instance, must have fat to dissolve so that they can be used by your body. However, our overall health also depends on the quality and quantity of fats we consume. Let’s take a look at the types of fats:
The unhealthy fats:
· Saturated fat: This type of fat comes mainly from animal sources of food, for example red meat, poultry or full-fat dairy products. These fats raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
· Trans fat: This type of fat occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but lower HDL cholesterol. This can also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The healthier fats are:
· Monounsaturated fatty acids: These fats are found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies have shown that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can result in a decreased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
· Polyunsaturated fatty acids. This type of fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Research shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats also improves blood cholesterol levels, much like monounsaturated fats.
· Omega-3 fatty acids. One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial for heart health. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it hasn't yet been determined whether replacements for fish oil — plant-based or krill — have the same health effects as omega-3 fatty acid from fish.
Thanks to chemistry, we now know that mono- or poly-unsaturated fatty acids are primarily found in plant oils, with olive oil having an exceptionally high percentage. Saturated fatty acids are animal sourced, whereas trans fats are the product of a chemical process turning oils to solids to preserve them longer.
Therefore, replacing animal sourced fat products such as butter and lard with olive oil has an immediate effect on the improvement of our lipidemic profile. But don’t go to extremes! All fats, including the healthy ones, are high in calories.