There are no blacks or whites in life. Just a million shades of grey.
This also translates to body weight’s numero uno ‘villain’ – fat. The bad reputation surrounding fat has led most of us to believe it is the real culprit behind certain health problems. However, some studies have proven that this underestimated macronutrient can play an integral role in the human body.
Analyzing all the information on fats can be exhausting, considering the innumerable studies, thoughts, and opinions. But we have done the hard work for you and put together some fundamental information regarding fats, its types, and how it could be helpful for your body. Yes, you read that right – fats could be good, too!
Keep scrolling to know more…
What are fats?
Fats are a type of nutrient integral to a balanced diet as a source of essential fatty acids and energy (1, 2). Fats may also have many other important functions in the body. A moderate amount of fat is essential for good health. But since too much of a good thing can also have problems, too much fat or too much of the wrong type of fat can be unhealthy.
Types of fat and which one to choose?
Fats can be divided into two main categories according to the diverse effect on our health…
Obviously these types of fats are not good for us. There are essentially two types of fats that must be avoided:
a) Saturated Fats: It is a type of dietary fat which is known as solid fat (3). A large amount of saturated fats is probably found in animal foods and some plant foods such as palm oil, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil. Moreover, this is also found in a small amount in cheese, beef, ice cream, and chicken. (4) It is one of the unhealthy fats that increase the risk of numerous health issues, including high blood cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular diseases (5, 6). Thus, consuming foods that are high in saturated fat is dangerous for your overall health.
b) Trans Fat: Heating liquid vegetable oils leads to the production of trans fats in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst. This process is known as hydrogenation (4). These hydrogenated fats can raise total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, which may lead to the risk of causing cardiovascular problems (7). Furthermore, trans fats may also contribute to insulin resistance and create inflammation (8, 9). They are generally considered to be unhealthy and are found in processed and fried foods.
The potentially helpful types of fats are unsaturated fats. There are three main types of healthy fats that are good for us:
a) Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA): These types of fatty acids are found in a variety of foods, oils, and seeds, such as avocados, olives, peanuts, almonds, canola oils, pumpkin and sesame seeds (4). These fats are considered healthier as these can help improve blood cholesterol levels. This helps bring down the risk of heart problems and may also help lessen the chances of type 2 diabetes (7).
b) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA): These fats are found in high concentrations in walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and oils from seeds such as sunflower, corn, soybean, and canola (4). Studies show that consuming foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthier than those that are rich in saturated fats. These can improve blood cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of heart troubles and type 2 diabetes. (7)
c) Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are some of the important types of polyunsaturated fats that are good for heart health. You can find these in fish, walnuts, flax seeds, soybean, or canola oil (4, 7). These are well known for improving overall health.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, raising your consumption of healthy fats may actually support weight loss and helps you feel full for longer. These are easy to digest and can help slow down the feeling of having an empty stomach, which is linked to reducing hunger and appetite (10).
A study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has suggested that people who eat healthy fats from olive oil and nuts are less prone to the risk of gaining weight as compared to people who eat a low-fat diet (11). Also, when a person is on his/her weight loss journey, they are recommended to take coconut oil daily in order to lose belly fat (12). On the other hand, unhealthy type of fats can have adverse effects.
There are many options available today to help you shed those extra pounds and improve overall health. Incorporating some healthy habits into your routine and finding out what is good to eat and what is not, can make a big difference. Even minor changes can have a great impact on your weight loss. Nobody is saying stop fats completely! Just choose the right kind that can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Furthermore, you can join the SuperFood Weight Loss Accelerator program to get support with your weight loss plan and also to get to know ideas on how to fulfill your body’s nutritional requirements while losing the extra pounds.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements and/or product(s) described in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease, illness or health condition. It is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet or dietary supplement program.
- “Dietary fats explained” MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000104.htm
- National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. “Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk.” Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 7, Fats and Other Lipids. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218759/
- “Facts about saturated fats” Medline Plus” https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000838.htm
- “Types of Fats” Harvard T.H. CHAN. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/
- Huff, T & Jialal, I. “Physiology, Cholesterol”. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470561/
- Soliman, Ghada. “Dietary cholesterol and the lack of evidence in cardiovascular disease.” Nutrients. 10:6 (2018): 780. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024687/
- “Dietary fats: Know which types to choose”. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550
- Risérus, Ulf, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Dietary fats and prevention of type 2 diabetes.” Progress in lipid research. 48:1 (2009): 44-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19032965
- Mozaffarian, Dariush, et al. “Dietary intake of trans fatty acids and systemic inflammation in women.” The American journal of clinical nutrition. 79:4 (2004): 606-612. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15051604
- Mackie, Alan R., et al. “Specific food structures supress appetite through reduced gastric emptying rate.” American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 304:11 (2013): G1038-G1043. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680687/
- Razquin, C., et al. “A 3 years follow-up of a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil is associated with high plasma antioxidant capacity and reduced body weight gain.” European journal of clinical nutrition. 63:12 (2009): 1387. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19707219
- Assunçao, Monica L., et al. “Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity.” Lipids. 44:7 (2009): 593-601. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058