Fats are important nutrients that the body needs to function properly. Dietary fats help the body absorb vitamins and minerals and perform other important functions. But a diet rich in unsaturated and saturated fats can increase body weight and raise cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease. In our article, we talked about the benefits and harms of saturated fats and other types.
The function of fats in the human body
The amount of fat for our body should not be underestimated. Low fat is an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. It is a source of essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce on its own.
- Fat helps the body absorb vitamins A, D and E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means that only fat can absorb them
- Fats play an important role in the formation of skin cells, blood vessels and nerve endings. With a proper fat diet, you get healthy and soft skin, a strong heart and a strong nervous system
- Healthy unsaturated fats are the building blocks of many of our body’s hormones, including those responsible for reproductive function as well as corticosteroid hormones
Lack of saturated and unsaturated fats causes a decrease in the body’s immune system. This is manifested by frequent colds, weakness and increased fatigue.
Types of fats
There are four main types of fats:
- saturated fats
- monounsaturated fats
- polyunsaturated fats
These four species have different chemical structures and physical properties. “Bad fats,” saturated fats and trans fats, are usually solid (like butter) at room temperature. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils are usually liquid (e.g. rapeseed oil).
Fats can also affect cholesterol levels in the body in a variety of ways. A diet high in saturated fats and trans fats increases the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. A generally healthy diet rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels.
Each gram of fat contains nine calories, regardless of the type of fat. Fats contain more calories than carbohydrates and proteins, which only have four calories per gram.
Which fats are good saturated or unsaturated? Health experts generally recommend replacing saturated fats and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while maintaining a nutritionally adequate diet. Read more about saturated and unsaturated fats below.
What are saturated fats?
Saturated fats are substances that remain solid at room temperature. What are saturated fats? These are mainly products of animal origin (natural saturated fats): milk, goat’s milk also contains saturated fats, saturated fats in cheese, saturated fats in sour cream and meat. Poultry and fish contain less saturated fat than red meat. Saturated fats are also found in tropical oils like coconut oil, saturated fats, palm oil, and cocoa butter. Tropical oils are saturated fats found in foods like coffee makers and whipped cream. Foods made with butter and margarine (cakes, cookies, and other desserts) are also high in saturated fat. Saturated fats are also found in small amounts in nuts.
Saturated fat food list:
- dairy products rich in saturated fats: milk, cheese, saturated fats butter, cream, ice cream
- fatty meats and meat products: lard saturated fats, bacon, sausages, pork
- tropical oils: coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter
- confectionery: sweets, cookies, cakes and cakes
Unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature, are considered healthy fats because they can raise blood cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and maintain heart rate. and perform other useful functions. Unsaturated fats are found mainly in plant foods such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
There are two types of “good” unsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in:
- oils: olive, peanut, rapeseed, camelina, mustard
- avocado saturated fat
- nuts: almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans
- seeds: pumpkin and sesame
Polyunsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in:
- oils: sunflower oil, unsaturated fats, corn, soybean, linseed, canola and cottonseed oils
- pine and walnuts
- flax seeds, grape seeds
- fatty fish: tuna, salmon, trout, salmon, mackerel, fish oil (omega 3 unsaturated fats and omega 6); caviar
Trans fats are artificially derived and processed fats. These are substances found in vegetable oils when they are reheated to high temperatures. They have a liquid form that turns into solid fats during food processing.
Trans fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, negatively affect metabolism, and can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Examples of foods that may contain trans fats include:
- confectionery: cookies, donuts, waffles, pastries, cakes, chocolate bars
- margarine, butter, refined vegetable oil
- sauces: mayonnaise, ketchup
- popcorn, crackers, chips
- quick breakfast mixes
- meat and fish semi-finished products, frozen dinners
- fast food: french fries, nuggets, burgers, etc
What is cholesterol
Cholesterol is a lipid used to build all cells in the body. It is necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous and immune systems, the production of vitamin D, many male and female sex hormones. The body needs cholesterol, but only in moderation.
High cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis of the arteries, which is the cause of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and other diseases.
Cholesterol can be divided into two types:
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol.
- Low density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
To improve your cholesterol levels, it is important to reduce the number of foods rich in saturated fats and trans fatty acids in your diet and choose foods that help lower your cholesterol levels.