There was a time where people who wanted to lose weight, cut down all the fats from their diets thinking it will stop storing fats in their bodies. But then came several studies proving that fats are good for your health and should not be completely banned from the plate. This created a paradigm shift from no fat diet to good fat diets.
It might be shocking for you to hear that fats are good for you. But yes they are. You only need to know which are good for us and which are not. These good fats deliver really great benefits on our bodies, including important organs like heart, brain, skin, liver and also good for weight loss.
Which are these good fats?
The chemical structure of the fats determines whether that fat will be healthy or unhealthy.
There 3 main types of dietary fats ; saturated(SFA), monounsaturated(MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA).
The MUFAs & PUFAs are popularly considered as good or healthy fats. PUFAs are further classified as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, out of which omega 3 are healthier.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also further classified as ALA, DHA and EPA (you might have seen these names in bournvita or health drink commercials)
Sources of good fats
- Almonds walnuts
- Flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower,pumpkin seeds
- Egg yolk
- Marine fish and fish oil
- Pure ghee
- Olive oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil
Coconut and ghee contain saturated fats in them, but they deliver some strong health benefits hence considered as healthy.
MUFAs or mono unsaturated fatty acids are known as healthy fats since they have good fat and cholesterol lowering properties.
Food sources- olive oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil, avocado.
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids fall under the category of PUFAs or poly unsaturated fatty acids. Out of them omega 3 have significant benefits on our health.
The sources for omega 3 are- almonds walnuts, various oilseeds, egg yolk, marine fishes
Omega 6 sources are cooking oils/ vegetable oils.
Why these fats are good?
These fats exert powerful effects within the body. We need them to support out metabolism, good health of skin, hair and bones, immunity, hormone production, brain health and absorption of many nutrients like vit A, D and E.
Healthy fats seem to offer protection against cardiovascular diseases. They can reduce artery clogging LDL, triglycerides, can improve HDL (good cholesterol), and reduce blood pressure.
They alleviate depression.
Can prevent from cancers, preserve memory & eye health, reduce ADHD and ADD symptoms and incidences of aggressive behavior.
Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce blood clotting, are anti-inflammatory, enhance immune system and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
These good fats are also good for fat burning inside the body. They improve insulin work, cholesterol metabolism and reduce the storage of fats. They also aid in losing weight.
Saturated fatty acids are also gaining lot of importance. Earlier it was believed that sat fats are the major cause of heart attacks or artery clogging. But now there are studies coming in stating that sat fats like ghee and coconut oil have been proving to reduce the similar symptoms.
Also ghee is rich in ALA and CLAs (type of fatty acids) which help in reducing fats in the body, can reduce the cholesterol and prevent the plaque formations in the body.
But again, one should not go overboard also. Daily 1-2 tsp of ghee is recommended.
Sources of SFAs- ghee, butter, coconut oil, fats from meat.
Coconut oil has type of fat that is medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are specific to coconut oil, and have a different metabolic path in our body.
They get directly transported to liver and get metabolized there. So they require less digestion time and are quickly used as energy source rather than being stored.
Apart from this, they have other health benefits like they improve digestion, insulin sensitivity, reduce cholesterol, reduce inflammation, etc.
They also help in fat loss in the body.
How much and how to consume?
You can switch to using healthy oil which is groundnut oil.
You can include one serving of almonds walnuts (one fistful) in a day as a filler snack.
If you’re a fish eater, you can include fish twice or thrice in a week as your main meal. You can take daily fish oil supplement to compliment the health.
Start having a teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil in warm water early morning.
Include eggs in the diet, daily two eggs are enough.
No food fat is bad unless you consume it too much than needed. But there are bad fats which are a result of chemical procedures made on them which change their properties.
Hydrogenated fats / trans fats
Normally oils are liquid at room temperatures unlike ghee/butter. But oils can be made solid by just adding one hydrogen atom in their chemical structure. This makes oil solid. why this is done?
It gives taste like ghee/butter but is actually cheaper than them since its made from oils.
It increases their shelf life as they can’t get spoiled easily.
Food industries making bakery or fried products generally use these fats due to these reasons. But trans fats have very dangerous effects on our health. It can lead to early aging, plaque formation, increases risk of heart attacks, diabetes and cancers.
Always read labels while buying the products. Avoid items which has hydrogenated or trans fats.
Fats can get spoiled if they are exposed to oxygen too much. Also heating oils to very high temperatures can cause oxidation.
Hence having too much of fried foods can lead to consumption of oxidized fats which have equally bad effects like trans fats.
Reheating the oils or using the oils which you had already used for frying or cooking can also cause oxidation.
Such fats are also bad for our health.
Check my video where I have talked about good and bad fats-