Fats: the good, the bad and the ugly

For the last few decades, fats were persecuted by dietitians and it’s only in the recent years that we’ve started to change our view. Today 0% fat label does not ensure that the product is a better choice than the one having more fat. If you are still unsure of what to think of fats let’s find out who is who.

So, all fats could be divided into good and bad ones or unsaturated and saturated. If someone tells you that all fats are equal, have your bottle of extra virgin olive oil at the ready and use it for salad dressing immediately.

Type of fat Sources
Unsaturated Monounsaturated Avocado, olives, olive oil, walnut oil, nuts (hazelnut, pecans, almonds, cashew, pine nuts), sesame seeds
Polyunsaturated Vegetable oils (sesame oil, sunflower seed oil, flax seed oil), sunflower seeds, fatty fish, fish liver, shellfish
Saturated Fatty beef and pork, dairy, cheese, butter, mayonnaise, milk chocolate, palm oil
Trans fats Fastfood (chips, French fries, hamburgers, thick sauces), margarine, meat and fish prepacked foods, frozen meals, store-bought baked goods, crackers, some kinds of breakfast mixes and protein bars.

Yes, you hear right. Olive oil is the one that belongs to a monounsaturated fats camp. It sits there together with avocado, olives, nuts and sesame seeds. Such fats are healthy. They help to lower the bad cholesterol level and work to prevent diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

Polyunsaturated fats also belong to a healthy group. There are unsaturated fatty acids which our body cannot produce and which we must get from food. They belong to the above-mentioned group as well. We absolutely have to have them in our diet. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), vegetable oils (sesame seed oil, sunflower oil), walnuts, sunflower and flax seeds.

What about saturated fats then? Are they bad for our health? I’d say that it is their excess which is unhealthy. Everything that unsaturated fats are battling with these ones is giving way to. Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, higher cholesterol level – all this might be the direct consequences of consuming too much food rich in saturated fats. I do not call you to stop eating them altogether, just to pay more attention choosing what you eat. Biggest saturated fats sources are fatty beef and pork, dairy, cheese, butter, even milk chocolate.

Apart from the mentioned types of fats, there are trans fats. They are the result of an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil making it solid. If the first 2 categories of fats are recognized by our body as understandable molecular structures, these are plain aliens with all the after effects. Our body can’t either digest them or utilize. Meanwhile, these are the fats which are aplenty in store-bought baked goods, all sorts of frozen food, processed food, and microwaved meals. Consuming trans fats in quantities more than your daily allowance (which should anyway be cut to 0%) leads to cancer, diabetes, heart attack and obesity.

Is it getting clearer? Let’s dispel a few myths now.

No fat means healthy. Wrong! To make a 0% fat product taste better manufacturers often add way more sugar than needed. And this is another unhealthy story.

To lose weight you should lower your fats intake. Again wrong. Look at what happened in the U.S. in the past 20 years. The percentage of people with obesity doubled coinciding with the “fat is bad” era. Actually to lose weight you need to lower your calories intake. Fats help to make you full quicker, thus reducing the risk of overeating. Another good way of a weight loss is exercising more.

Choose your fat sources wisely. I recommend avocado, raw nuts, farmers veal (the quality of which you trust), good olive oil, etc.

I hope now you won’t be afraid of fats.

Your Health Coach,

Anastassia Khozissova

I help children
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