What are Fats their Types and Sources?

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What are Fats their Types and Sources?

What are Fats

What are Fats their Types and Sources

Fats are an essential part of our diet and is important for good health. There are various types of fats, with some being healthier than others. To help make sure you stay healthy, it is significant to eat unsaturated fats in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.

When eaten in large amounts, all fats, including healthy ones can contribute to weight gain. These are higher in energy (kilojoules) than any other nutrient and so eating less fat overall is likely to help with weight loss.

Eating less saturated and trans fats may help lower your risk of heart disease. When buying products check the labels and choose the varieties that are lesser in saturated and trans fats and higher in poly and monounsaturated ones.

So a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, but that also contains moderate amounts of unsaturated fats will help you stay healthy.

Various Types of Fats

Saturated Fats

Eating greater amounts of saturated fat is linked with an increased risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol levels. These fats are generally solid at room temperature and are found in:

Animal-based products:

Dairy foods – such as butter, cream, full fat milk and cheese

  • Meat – such as fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb and chicken (especially chicken skin), processed meats like salami, Some plant-derived products:
  • Palm oil
  • Coconut
  • Coconut milk and cream
  • Cooking margarine

Many manufactured and packaged foods:

  • Fatty snack foods (such as potato chips, savoury crackers)
  • Deep fried and high fat take away foods (such as hot chips, pizza, hamburgers)
  • Cakes and high fat muffins
  • Pastries and pies (including quiche, tarts, sausage rolls, pasties, croissants)
  • Sweet and savoury biscuits

Unsaturated

Unsaturated fats are a vital part of a healthy diet. These help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels (among other health benefits) when they replace saturated in the diet.

This type is further divided into two parts:

Polyunsaturated

  • omega-3 which are found in fish, especially oily fish
  • omega-6 which are found in some oils such as safflower and soybean oil, along with some nuts, including brazil nuts.

Monounsaturated

  • found in olive and canola oil, avocados and some nuts, such as cashews and almonds.

Trans

Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been processed and as a result, behave like saturated ones. Eating trans fats increases the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and decreases the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in the body which is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to lower the amounts of trans fats you eat to help you stay healthy.

Theses are found in many packaged foods and also in butter and some margarines. Use food labels to compare foods and choose those with fewer trans ones.

It is great for health to replace saturated and trans with mono and polyunsaturated fats.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in food, but also in our blood. Cholesterol has many important functions in the body but having high levels of the wrong type of cholesterol in the blood increases heart disease risk.

It was once thought that eating too many cholesterol-containing foods (such as eggs) was the major dietary cause of high blood cholesterol level. But we now know that eating too many foods containing higher amounts of saturated and trans fats is a bigger problem and has a much greater influence on blood cholesterol levels.

Fat recommendations

According to the WHO, to avoid unhealthy weight gain:

  • total fat intake should be less than 30% of total caloric intake
  • saturated fat intake should be less than 10% of total caloric intake
  • trans fat intake should be less than 1% of total caloric intake

Health professionals recommend replacing saturated and trans with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Overall, the diet should be nutritionally adequate and contain enough calories to maintain a healthy weight.

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