Saturated and Unsaturated Fats – what you should know?

Saturated Fats

Contrary to popular belief fat is not bad but it is important to know what kind of fat promotes good health and what kind does not. Some amount of fat is required for a number of bodily functions but excessive fat can harm the body.

Technically speaking the fats we use for cooking or those found in foods are either saturated or unsaturated fats and these are also called fatty acids. Saturated fats are most often found in animal products like meat, butter, whole milk, margarine, cheese, hydrogenated oils, frozen meat products. While unsaturated fats are found in soybean, canola, olive and sunflower oils, fish oils, walnuts, flaxseeds.

Foods are tested in food testing laboratories to find out the exact amount and type of fat content per serving. FSSAI has made it mandatory to list the type of fat and content of fat in processed foods on the nutritional information panel so consumers can make informed choices and prevent health problems by consuming the fats which may be harmful for their health. Most health conscious consumers make it a point to read what kind of fat the food contains and in what content. They avoid foods that have saturated and trans fats as that could lead to heart related disease.

Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature and therefore foods that contain a lot of saturated fats similarly become solid too. Saturated fats raise levels of cholesterol in your blood. They could also clog your arteries over time which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.Doctors recommended that limiting saturated fat to 7 to 10 percent of your total calories keeps you away from heart problems.

On the other hand unsaturated fats tend to remain in a liquid state. Therefore, a number of oils contain unsaturated fats. If you look at food labels you will know it contains unsaturated fats if the label contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.Unsaturated fats can reduce the risk of heart disease and also improve the good cholesterol of HDL.

Choose unsaturated oils instead of saturated fat if you wish to maintain a healthy eating style. Avoid foods like desserts, cakes, cookies, pastries, pizzas, ice-creams and dairy desserts, sausages, meats and chicken with skin and also full cream milk as these are likely to have saturated fats.

Oils have unsaturated fats and so they provide vitamin E and are found in foods such as soybeans, olives, corn, sunflowers, and peanuts. Studies have found that foods that have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats improve cholesterol levels as well impact insulin levels and help control Type II diabetes.

Polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 fatty acids that act to reduce the risk of heart disease and are found mostly in fish like salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel.Most nuts and seeds contain unsaturated fat called omega-6 fatty acids.Cooking with canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and sunflower oil and olive oil for salad preparations will ensure you get enough unsaturated fats to keep in good health.