All about Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
Typically, we consider "fat" as bad, but we need healthy fats for metabolic functions in our body. A wholesome and balanced diet always consists of an optimum amount of good fats. Ever wondered what good and bad fats are? Let’s read some facts about healthy fat foods!
All about Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
Dietary fats are essential as they are important for the development of the cells’ outer layer in our body. They also help in the insulation of nerves and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Healthy dietary fats or lipids also enhance the taste, texture, and energy level of food. According to dietary guidelines for Indians, 1 gram of fat provides 9 kcal/g and consists of different proportions of fatty acids.
The visible fat intake (Recommended Dietary Allowance, 2020) for an Indian sedentary adult male is 25g/day and for adult females it is 20g/day. It should be achieved with an appropriate proportion of healthy fats. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of foods for good fats in nature.
Dietary fats are mostly derived from 2 sources: -
Visible fats:These are the added fats like oils, ghee, salad oils (olive oil, flax seed oils etc), dalda, margarine.
Non-visible fats:These are derived fats from plant or animal foods like walnuts, eggs, almonds, milk etc.
Before we dive in further, let’s first learn about the difference between good fats and bad fats.
Good fats vs. bad fats
Let’s read about good and bad fats and why we should use healthy fat sources wisely.
|Good fats||Bad fats|
What are they?
|Good fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are good for your health.||Bad fats are trans-fats and saturated fats that affect your body and lead to obesity and other health complications.|
Food products that contain these fats?
|Foods for good fats are olive oil, fish oil, almonds, peanuts, soybean oil, flax seeds, soymilk, sesame oil or seeds, and walnuts. These fall under unsaturated fats called "healthy fats.”||Bakery products, vanaspati, lard, beef, pork, cheese, butter, and processed foods are considered saturated and trans-fats.|
|Unsaturated fat food should be used wisely and moderately.||Strictly control and limit its intake.|
|These may aid in a healthy heart and have a positive impact on the body.||These lead to heart issues, obesity and affect your body’s insulin level.|
Thus, the inclusion of good fats and bad fats plays a vital role in maintaining your health and keeping disease at bay. Make sure you watch the quantity and quality of foods for good fat in your diet. One should prefer only those foods that have good fats, like oatmeal smoothies, porridge, eggs etc. There are many high fat diets and meal options, but while grocery shopping, you should always ask yourself “which fat is good for health.”
Types of fats
There are different types of fats that serve different purposes in our bodies and play a crucial role depending on the amount you take in your diet. In general terms, they are categorised as good fats and bad fats. However, let’s take a look at the different types of fats as classified in science:
- Unsaturated fat
- Saturated fat
What is Unsaturated Fat?
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are considered healthy fats or good fats. There are 2 types of unsaturated fats:
⮚ Monounsaturated fats (MUFA):
Monounsaturated fats are present in unsaturated fat foods like olives, peanuts, seeds (pumpkin and sesame seeds), and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, etc.
⮚ Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA):
Polyunsaturated fats are present in sunflower oil, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil. These food products contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are the most crucial polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are also known as healthy fat foods.
What is Saturated Fat?
Saturated fats: Unlike unsaturated fat foods, saturated fats are those fats which remain solid at room temperature and are often considered harmful fats, as they are associated with many health issues. Some examples are vanaspati, lard, cheese, and butter.
Functions of fats:
⮚ Provide energy:
It provides you ample amount of energy to carry out normal functions of your body.
⮚ Absorption of fat-soluble Vitamins:
Some vitamins can only be absorbed in presence of fats like vitamin A, D, E and K.
⮚ Cholesterol control:
Good fats like olive oil, almonds, fish oil, etc., maintain an optimum level of good fat in your body and promote the production of good cholesterol too.
⮚ Skin and hair health:
Good fats promote healthy skin and hair. They also reduce the dryness of your skin and keep it healthy.
⮚ Protect vital organs:
Fats act as a heat regulator in your body and also provide cushion support to your heart, liver, and other vital organs.
What are healthy fats?
Wondering what are healthy fats? Healthy fat foods include polyunsaturated fats that lower the risk of ailments in your body. Healthy fat sources can be included in your diet through recipes like oatmeal porridge with sesame seeds or flax seeds, fish curry, mixed fruit nut smoothies, oat dark chocolate pudding with pumpkin seeds, and brown bread with eggs.
Always make sure to include healthy fat sources in your daily diet for optimum health.
It’s important to know and understand the role of fats as they are essential to our body. We have listed some foods for good fats above. One should plan their diet wisely with healthy fat sources to meet the basic bodily functions. Including fat wisely in your diet not only helps in the development of your body but also assists you in developing a healthy lifestyle.
- Field, C. J., & Robinson, L. (2019). Dietary fats. Advances in Nutrition, 10(4), 722-724. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6628852/
- Dietary Guidelines for Indians- A manual. Retrieved from https://www.nin.res.in/downloads/DietaryGuidelinesforNINwebsite.pdf
- Banik, S., & Hossain, M. S. (2014). A comparative overview on good fats and bad fats: guide to control healthy body. International Journal of Health, 2(2), 41-44. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265785533_A_comparative_overview_on_good_fats_and_bad_fats_guide_to_control_healthy_body
- ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition. (2020). Recommended Dietary Allowances and Estimated Average Requirements Nutrient Requirements for Indians-2020: A Report of the Expert Group Indian Council of Medical Research National Institute of Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.im4change.org/upload/files/RDA_short_report%281%29.pdf
- Mani, I., & Kurpad, A. V. (2016). Fats & fatty acids in Indian diets: Time for serious introspection. The Indian journal of medical research, 144(4), 507. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5345296/pdf/IJMR-144-507.pdf