What are healthy fats and unhealthy fats? Types of fats.

What are healthy fats and unhealthy fats? Scroll down to find out. Fats always gets a bad reputation even though it is one of the macronutrients that we need in our diet.

How fats are healthy?

Fats are the largest and the cleanest source of energy and they provide 9 calories per gram. Fat is the most calorie-dense macro-nutrient.
i.e.,1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories whereas 1 pound of protein or carbohydrate = 1,800 calories.

What Are Fats?

Fat is often thought to be synonymous with lipid, but fats are technically considered to be triglycerides. A triglyceride is formed from three fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Fats and oils are a varied group of chemicals that do not readily dissolve in or mix with water.

If this collection is liquid at room temperature, it can be called oil and if it’s solid, it is referred to as fat. Fats are often found in both plants and animals.

Don’t get confused with Body fat with dietary fat.

Function of fats in the body

  • They provide a major source of stored energy (body fat).
  • They are essential for growth, development, and cell functions.
  • They serve as a shield and protects vital organs from mechanical damage.
  • They act as an insulator and helps in maintaining body core temperature.
  • Fats help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K.

Therefore, you can conclude that your body definitely needs Fats. It is easy to get confused talking about fats because some are good and some are bad. Now, which ones are good!! and which ones are bad!! To know this, you need to know their types.

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Types of Fats

Fats are of two types. They are saturated fats and unsaturated fats. The basic difference lies in their bonding structure. 

Types of fats

Saturated fats don’t have any double bond in their structure whereas unsaturated fats have at least one double bond in their structure.

Unsaturated fats are divided into three. They are mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, and Trans fats.

Poly-unsaturated fats are further classified into Omega-3 and Omega-6.(Refer to the image for better understanding). Among all these types, lets see the unhealthy and healthy type of fats.

Unhealthy fats

Saturated fats:

saturated fat on health is among the foremost controversial topics. Generally, saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. Saturated fat consumption could increase certain heart disease risk factors, including LDL -low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol. 

saturated fat has also been related to other negative health effects, like increased inflammation and mental decline. Food Sources are fast food, fried products, sugary food, and processed meats.

Trans fats:

It is otherwise called trans-unsaturated fats, is a type of unsaturated fats. Trans fats can be found in both natural and artificial food sources. Naturally-occurring trans fats are found in foods made from grass-fed animals. Natural trans fats in small amounts are not that much harmful.

They can reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Artificial trans fats are man-made like baked foods, cakes, cookies, pizza. Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol(LDL – low-density lipoprotein) and make you more likely to get heart-related diseases. They also lower “good” cholesterol(HDL – high-density lipoprotein).

Consuming high levels of saturated or trans fats can cause some heart conditions and even stroke sometimes. Health experts generally recommend consuming a very minute amount of saturated fats and trans fats.

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Healthy fats

Saturated fats:

Yes, saturated fats are not completely unhealthy. there’s no conclusive evidence that saturated fat increases heart disease risk. Saturated fat intake may increase heart condition risk factors, but not heart condition itself. This information can’t be generalized to all foods that contain saturated fat.

For example, a diet high in saturated fats like fried products, sugary food, and processed meats is probably going to affect health differently than a diet high in saturated fats like full-fat dairy, grass-fed meat, and coconut.

Unsaturated fats:

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. They are important parts of a healthy diet. These fats help reduce the risk of heart disease and improves blood cholesterol levels. 

Some researches show that they are also useful in brain functioning and to maintain skin health. These unsaturated fats are divided into monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats.

  • Mono-unsaturated fats:

This type of unsaturated fats has only one double bond in its structure.They are mostly found in food sources like Nuts, Avocado, Canola oil, Olive oil, Safflower oil (high oleic), Sunflower oil, Peanut oil and peanut butter, Sesame oil.

  • Poly-unsaturated fats:

This type of unsaturated fats has more than one double bond in its structure. This poly-unsaturated fat is further divided into Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids:

It is important that we get them from food sources. They help keep your immune system healthy and helps in lowering the risk of heart disease in adults.
These fats are found in 

  •  Fish and other seafood especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.
  •  whole eggs 
  •  flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  •  walnuts
  •  soya beans
  •  tofu
  •  canola oil
  •  juices and
  •  yogurts
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Omega-6 fatty acids:

Just like omega-3 fats, Omega-6 fats are also healthy unsaturated fats. Omega-6 fats play an important role in regulating our genes and blood clotting. These fats are found in some oils along with some nuts, including brazil nuts.

  • soya beans
  • corn
  • safflower oils
  • sunflower oils
  • nuts and seeds
  • meat, poultry, fish, and eggs

The conclusion

There’s no doubt, fats are really important in a healthy diet. It is a wrong idea to focus solely on one macronutrient and not the diet as a whole. When choosing fats, try to choose unsaturated fat over saturated fat and trans fat. When buying food products check the nutrition labels and choose foods low in saturated and trans fats. 

Consume healthy fats in small amounts because more amount of fat consumption can increase your overall calories and eventually promotes weight gain. Fats can be your best friend and worst enemy. For queries, You can ask me on Instagram.

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Mujja Saikumar, founder of The Muscly Advisor is an Aeronautical engineering graduate formed an obsession with fitness and helping people to clear all the health and fitness-related doubts through Blogs, videos, and social media. Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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