When it comes to living a healthy life, dietary fat is important for maintaining good overall health. All this is the most important as you advance in age. Therefore, it is necessary to understand that your body needs a regular intake of fat.

Consuming adequate amounts of dietary fats is important, as they provide calories your body uses for energy, support cell growth, and protect and keep your organs warm.

Your body also needs fat in order to effectively absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as to produce important hormones. Eating the right kind and in the right amount also helps keep your blood pressure under control.

However, it’s also important to realize that what you eat can affect your LDL (bad) cholesterol. It’s critical to understand which types of fats can raise your LDL cholesterol and which ones don’t. This knowledge can significantly help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Some fats are also good sources of two essential fatty acids: linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid.

Therefore, it’s important to understand that trying to shed all the fat could actually deprive your body of one of its most essential nutrients.

different types of fats

Fat is a complicated subject that inspires much debate among scientists and nutrition experts. The fact is that there is no single “fat” but there are different types of fats.

It pays to understand the role fats play in a healthy diet. So it’s good to take a closer look at the four different types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat.

You can find dietary fats in both animal and plant foods. The fact is that all dietary fat is made up of a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fatty acids, in various proportions. Furthermore, the oils are generally unsaturated fatty acids, although they do have small amounts of saturated fatty acids.

All four types have difficult chemical structures and physical properties. The reality is that some of these fats are good, others are good or bad, depending on certain factors, while others are downright bad.

The bad fats (saturated fats and trans fats) are generally solid at room temperature. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid.

Regardless of its type, each gram of fat has nine (9) calories. Fats are naturally more calorie-dense than carbohydrates and protein, which each have four (4) calories per gram.

Saturated fat

Saturated fats are generally considered “bad” fats. Their chemical composition is such that they do not have double bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules.

They are found naturally in many foods and are obtained primarily from meat and dairy products. These meat sources include beef, lamb, pork, and poultry (with skin). Dairy sources of saturated fat include full-fat dairy products such as butter, margarine, cream, and cheese.

Plant sources of saturated fat include coconut, coconut oil, and cocoa butter. Others are palm oil and palm kernel oil, which are generally referred to as tropical oils. However, tropical oils generally do not contain cholesterol.

Also, sources of saturated fat include many fast, processed, and baked foods, such as pizza, desserts, hamburgers, cookies, and cakes.

monounsaturated fats

Chemically, monounsaturated fats are simply fat molecules that have an unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule. They are usually liquid at room temperature, but start to solidify when they get cold. A typical example of a monounsaturated fat is olive oil.

Oils that are high in monounsaturated fats also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant. Foods that are high in monounsaturated fats are liquid plant-based oils such as canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil.

Other good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados and nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Monounsaturated fats are also found in seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower.

polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated (“poly,” for many) carbon bond. Like monounsaturated fats, they are also liquid at room temperature and turn solid when cooled.

They are found in greater amounts in sunflower, corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils. Other good sources include flax seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and walnut.

However, animal fats contain only trace amounts of polyunsaturated fats. Seafood such as herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna contain high amounts of a type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acids.

Trans fat

Trans fatty acids are found primarily in oils created through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Trans fats are structurally different from unsaturated fatty acids and differ in their health effects.

Trans fats are found primarily in processed foods, such as fried foods, cakes, pizza crust, pie crusts, and other baked goods. Some others are processed foods like cookies, muffins, crackers, and even some brands of microwave popcorn.

Types of dietary fats to eat?

The main health concern about the consumption of dietary fats is the impact they have on blood cholesterol levels. There are also serious concerns about the increased risk of inflammation that consuming saturated and trans fats can cause in the body.

Saturated and trans fats in food cause a much greater increase in LDL cholesterol. However, eating healthy fats from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help balance cholesterol by lowering LDL and raising good (HDL) cholesterol.

Eating foods that contain fat is definitely part of a healthy diet. The idea should be to choose foods that provide healthy fats while also trying to maintain a caloric balance between the number of calories you eat from food and the number of calories you burn.

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