They are bad for us. They make us fat. They are high in cholesterol. They will make us have heart attacks. The list goes on.
This is quite a limited viewpoint on fats. This post is (hopefully) going to shed a little more light on the topic and maybe make you think fats aren’t all that bad!
Firstly we need to distinguish the different types of fats. Broadly speaking there are 4 types:
Mono-unsaturated, Poly-unsaturated, Saturated and Trans-saturated
We also tend to think of them in order above from being good for us (mono/poly) too bad for us (saturated/trans). Let’s look at them individually:
Mono-unsaturated (the good stuff…)
These are unsaturated, meaning liquid at room temperature, think Olive oil for example. Other sources are avocado, peanut oil, vegetable oils and nuts. They are deemed to be good for us as they have a single to single carbon bond, resulting in 2 fewer hydrogen atoms than saturated fat (we will look at this later). They are deemed to reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood (winner), whilst also believed to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. They are also high in nutrients which help maintain and develop your body’s cells. It’s a bit scientific but used in moderation i.e. don’t drink olive oil and only eat nuts they are good for you.
Poly-unsaturated (the essential stuff…)
These are essential as the body cannot make them itself but are essential for your body to function. This means you must get them from food. They are split into Omega 3 chain and Omega 6 chain. Our current diets give us way more Omega 6 than Omega 3, probably at a ratio of 16:1. This is far too much, we really want between 1:1 or 4:1. Our western diets are to blame for this as there are far too many omega 6 fatty acids in our foods. This can cause a lot of inflammation in our bodies which is not healthy. We can address this balance by cutting down the omega 6 foods and increasing our omega 3 foods, examples below:
Omega 3 types of food (increase): Oily fish, flaxseed (oil), chia seeds, walnuts, beef and more
Omega 6 types (reduce): Vegetable oil, sunflower oil, mayonnaise, oil used in fast food etc.
These fats are good for us as they help with satiety (felling full), help to lower your blood pressure and more.
Saturated (the bad stuff..or is it?)
Generally seen as bad for us, saturated fat is solid at room temperature (think butter). These contain high volumes of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins need the fat to be present to be absorbed. Saturated fat also helps the liver flush out any fat accumulation in it. Research has also shown that eating saturated fat reduces the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise the good cholesterol (HDL). There are many more benefits of eating saturated fat, it is essential for brain function, can help with weight loss, stronger bones and more.
Trans saturated (this is the bad stuff)
Bad bad bad bad. Known to raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce good cholesterol (HDL), they can cause heart disease, diabetes type 2, stroke and a plethora of much more! Why? Well basically Trans fats are created by the hydrogenation of oils. Hydrogenation solidifies liquid oils and increase its shelf life. It is completely unnatural and in my book anything unnatural isn’t good for us, makes sense doesn’t it. You wouldn’t eat a lump of plastic as it is unnatural and has zero health benefits. Transfats also have zero health benefits, but guess what they sure are tasty! They are in fried foods, doughnuts, pastries, fast food and many other rubbish foods available to us. If at all possible avoid.
Now this is a very brief post about fats, there is far more on the internet and in research pages and books so if interested I would delve further. Hope it helps to some extent.