Fats have bad reputation in general but one thing for sure is that not all fats are equal and we actually need some fats in our diet ! They provide us with energy, help with cells growth and make us feel full and satisfied. Fat is more caloric (9 calories for 1 g) though compared to carbs and proteins (4g). Therefore, you have to be mindful of the portion size and the type of fats you include in your diet by choosing the right fat. Fats come in these four categories below.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat
You will find them in nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, pecan nuts, Brazilian nuts and peanuts. They are also found in vegetal oils like olive oil, canola oil and sunflower oil. Seeds contain monounsaturated fat too like such as pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
Seeds, vegetal oils and nuts contain polyunsaturated fats as well. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids (Harvard School of Public Health) are an important type of polyunsaturated fat, our bodies cannot make these and they have to come from our diet.
Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are called unsaturated fat. This type of fat is good for you because it reduces your risk of heart diseases by lowering the LDL cholesterol levels (LDL = bad cholesterol) and increasing the protective HDL cholesterol levels.
Saturated and trans fat
Saturated fat is found in animal-based foods such as red meat, sausages, bacon, cheese, whole milk, butter and packaged foods like cookies, pastries and desserts.
Trans fats are found mainly in highly processed foods. This is because manufacturers have been turning liquid fats into solid fat through hydrogenation, a process used to increase these product shelf-life.
Saturated and trans fats increase your LDL and decrease your HDL levels which leads to higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
General nutrition guidance recommend to consume more unsaturated fats, reduce saturated fat (processed meat, cheese, ice creams) and consume trans fat (processed foods like cookies, fries, pastries) sparingly.
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Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/)