Dietary fat is one of the three macro-nutrients, along with protein and carbohydrates that provide energy for your body. Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body's functions. Some vitamins, A, D, E and K must have fat to dissolve and nourish your body. It's important for proper growth, development and keeping you healthy.
There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated.
Excessive amounts of fat are found in saturated animal fats and trans-fatty acids. These types of fat raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found mainly in the following animal and dairy products such as
Saturated fats are also found in hard margarines that are formed by the 'hydrogenation' of vegetable oils. Hydrogenation increases the shelf-life of food, but it also creates trans fats (trans-fatty acids) that are harmful for health.
Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. They come from vegetable sources and are also found in oily fish and in soft margarines labelled 'high in polyunsaturates'. Unsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids that cannot be manufactured by the body.
Good sources of unsaturated fats include:
Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids play an important role in the functions of the body that promote health and well being. In particular, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat.
While all types of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, omega-3 fats are proving to be especially beneficial. Many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include:
Oily fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, mackerel, pilchards and herring. Current advice is to eat oily fish two to three times a week.
MUFA & PUFA
The two main types of potentially helpful dietary fat:
Monounsaturated fatty acid -
This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
Good foods: Olive oil, Canola oil, Sunflower oil, Peanut oil, Sesame oil, Avocados, Olives, Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews), Peanut butter
Polyunsaturated fatty acid -
This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3 s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.
Good Foods: Soybean oil, Corn oil, Safflower oil, Walnuts, Sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds, Flax seed, Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), Soy milk, Tofu