Dietary Fats - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Dr. Amar Amale    30-07-2021 Consult

Did you know that the types of fats you eat are more important to your health than the total amount of fat in your diet? There was a time, not long ago, when all dietary fat was bad for our health. It was not truly bad, of course, but we talked ourselves into believing it was. Fats are constantly being demonized and given a bad picture. But now that fat and how our body's process it is much more complex. Our bodies need some fat for optimal functioning. But we need the right kinds of fat, and we need to practice moderation. Some fats are actually good for you, and others should be avoided at all costs. How do you know which is which?

(A) Fats - The Good: - Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are "good fats". These types of fat melt at a lower temperature and therefore are much more likely to be oil at room temperature. 

Consuming these kinds of fats -
  1. Can lower bad (LDL) cholesterol level.
  2. Can lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
  3. Can provide essential fats (omega 6 and omega 3) that your body needs but canít produce itself.
  1. Plant based liquid oils such as canola, olive, peanut, safflower and sesame.
  2. Fatty fish such as tuna, herring, lake trout, mackerel, salmon and sardines.
  3. Avocados
  4. Nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts.

(B) Fats - The Bad: - Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are a much worse fat choice compared to unsaturated fatty acids. Generally, they come from animal sources and tend to be solid at room temperature. 

Consuming large amount of these kind of fats -
  1. Can raise bad cholesterol levels.
  2. Can lower good cholesterol levels.
  3. Can increase risk of heart diseases, stroke, and cancer.
  1. Most saturated fats come from animal sources including meat and dairy such as beef, chicken and pork fat.
  2. Cheese such as whole milk cheese
  3. Butter
  4. Tropical oils such as coconut, palm and kernel oils.

(C) Fats - The Ugly: - Trans-fatty acids, or hydrogenated fats, are man-made and are probably more adverse to your health than even saturated animal fats. Trans-fats are put into high fat foods that are required to have a long shelf life, such as snack foods found in convenience stores. 

Consuming these kind of fats -
  1. Can raise bad cholesterol levels.
  2. Can lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  3. Can increase risk of heart diseases and stroke.
  4. Can increase risk of type 2 diabetes.
  1. Processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oils.
  2. Fried foods like chips, French fries etc.
  3. Some baked goods.
  4. Stick of margarine.

Eat a healthy dietary pattern that includes good fat, limits saturated fats and keep Trans fats as low as possible. Moderation is the key with dietary fat intake. And, in addition to practicing moderation, getting the right types of fat into your diet is vital for your long-term cardiovascular health. Also be aware that even with a diet low in fat most people, especially those over the age of 50, should still have regular physicals, including blood tests. Most of these people don't realize that despite consistent endurance training and a well-balanced diet, health parameters such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood lipids have a distinct genetic factor and should be checked regularly.