Saturated Fats And Unsaturated Fats
Published on: 23-Aug-2022
10 min read
Saturated Fats And Unsaturated Fats
Fats are vital macronutrients for our bodies. However, fats have always been a topic of discussion primarily because of a lack of awareness and related myths.
Welcome to the world where myths are more talked about than any breaking news.
Let us clear some myths related to fat for you.
Fat is a vital macronutrient as it helps in generating energy and several other essential body functions. However, we know fat has a bad reputation, mainly for increasing cholesterol levels. There are various other reasons why fat is not the favourite thing here.
Dusting out fat myths! Not all fats are bad!
Table Of Contents
1. The Science Behind Fats
2. Types Of Fats
3. Sources Of Different Types Of Fats
4. Health Effects Of Saturated And Unsaturated Fats
5. The Recommended Intake Of Fats
6. The Final Say
The Science Behind Fats
Fat is considered a significant source of energy production and a crucial macronutrient which is why it is essential for us. Let us understand the simple math of fat consumption;
1 gram of Fat equals 9 calories, twice the amount produced by carbohydrates and protein, which is 4 calories per gram.
Fat, which our body gets from food, provides us with the vital fatty acids known as linoleic and linolenic acids. These are called "vital" because our body can neither produce nor function without them.
More importantly, they are a significant factor in brain development, managing blood clotting, and controlling inflammation.
Fat keeps our skin and hair healthy and absorbs the fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins A, D, E & K.
Types Of Fats
Yes, we do not stop here. We have a lot to discuss. You might think fat is one category, but here, you are mistaken. When we generalise fat, there are two types:
- Saturated Fats
- Unsaturated Fats
There is one more fat category, but this one is the bad fat, known as "Trans Fat."
Let us take a deep dive and discuss them.
An interesting fact about why this is called Saturated Fat is that these fats have a single bond between their molecules and are “saturated” with hydrogen molecules. They are solid at room temperature, which is why they are known as "Saturated Fats."
Generally, animal food contains this, but plant food is also high in saturated fat, like coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
Saturated fat is the culprit behind your high LDL levels. When we consume a high amount of food that is high in saturated fat, it might clog our arteries and block our blood flow. Therefore, a high rise in saturated fat is worse than dietary cholesterol. It increases the risk of significant health issues.
No, we are not stating that saturated fat is the worse or you need to avoid it in the name of good health. Still, it is strongly advised to try and control the amount of food that has saturated Fat.
Keep saturated fat to less than 7% to 10% of your total fat consumption.
Just as saturated fats have a back story, let us tell you about unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fats do not have single molecules; they can be single, double, or even triple. These molecules turn into liquid at room temperature in oil form.
Unsaturated fat is good. It is considered beneficial for our body and has excellent effects on our health, like
Unsaturated fats are usually found in plant foods, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
Further, they are divided into two broad categories;
1. Monounsaturated fat- Monounsaturated fat is plant-based fat. It helps lower the risk of heart-related diseases and overall health.
2. Polyunsaturated fat- Your body needs polyunsaturated fats for lots of functions. It helps with blood clotting & muscle movement. Since your body does not make this fat, you must get it through your diet. It can be further divided into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Now, we will talk about the "Bad Fat" called Trans Fat. These are formed in our bodies by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst. This process is called hydrogenation.
Well, hydrogenation is not the only way for trans fat formation; it is also naturally found in beef and dairy fat considerably in small amounts.
- Hydrogenating vegetable oils make them more stable and less rancid. Converting the oil into a solid makes them function as margarine or shortening.
- Partially hydrogenated oils can withstand repeated heating without breaking down, making them ideal for frying fast foods.
- For these reasons, partially hydrogenated oils became a mainstay in restaurants and the food industry – for frying, baked goods, processed snack foods and margarine.
Sources Of Different Types Of Fats
It is a fact that many people still do not know which food contains which type of Fat. Let us give you an insight into this;
- Meat is a high source of saturated fat like beef and lamb.
- Pork and chicken products.
- Cream-based dairy products like butter, cheese, whole milk, etc.
- Oils like coconut and palm.
- Oils like peanuts, canola and olive
- Nuts like hazelnuts, pecans and almonds
- Oils like canola, soybean, flax seed, sunflower, and safflower corn.
- Walnuts (dry fruit)
- Seeds like flax seeds, sesame, and pumpkin seeds.
Foods that might contain trans fast are;
- Fried foods like samosa and kachori
Health Effects Of Saturated And Unsaturated Fats
Here are some researches on the health effects of saturated and unsaturated fats:
- According to a scientific study in 2017, people with heart disease should consume higher amounts of saturated fats in their diet.
- As per the evaluation by many health experts and scientists, saturated fats may increase low-density lipoprotein or LDL levels or "bad" cholesterol.
- Many experts, like doctors and dietitians, agree that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat may also reduce cardiovascular disease risk (CVD).
- A diet with too much-saturated fats can increase body weight and the risk of CVD (Cardio Vascular Disease). Still, it might not be as harmful as trans fats because trans fat increases unhealthy fats and bad cholesterol levels comparatively faster than saturated fats.
- Whereas in contrast, as per a study conducted back in 2014, when it comes to unsaturated fats, the health benefits of unsaturated fats are well-established. Unsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and build stronger cell membranes in the body.
Recommended Intake Of Fats
The recommended intake of visible fat for
The Final Say
Although fats are macronutrients required by our body for essential functions, despite the abundant data on dietary fats, there is still a relationship between saturated fats and adverse health outcomes, such as heart disease.
Dietary changes may have unexpected effects on health, especially for people with underlying health conditions and heart problems. Therefore include good fats in diets as it is essential for our body, and consult your dietitian about the rich sources and which is best for you.
1. Why is fat a macronutrient?
Fat is one of the macronutrients along with proteins and carbohydrates. These are the nutrients our body uses in more significant amounts and give us energy. However, our body requires them in larger quantities. Therefore, they are called macronutrients.
2. In what disease should I avoid saturated fats?
People with heart disease should avoid consuming saturated fats, which increase LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol), increasing the risk of cardiac issues and stroke.
3. Is unsaturated fats also harmful, like saturated fats?
No, unsaturated fats benefit your heart health and improve your blood cholesterol levels when consumed in the suggested amount.
4. What happens if I do not eat fat?
Your body needs dietary fat for many biological processes. However, suppose you do not get enough fat in your diet. In that case, you may notice symptoms such as dry rashes, hair loss, a weaker immune system, and issues related to vitamin deficiencies.
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