When you think of the word fats, chances are that you think of them in a negative way. After all, we live in a society where “fat” has been branded as a bad thing, whether its nutrition or fitness related.
However, the truth is that fats aren’t always the bad guys that they are made out to be. Did you know, for example, that there are multiple different types of fat, and some are good for you, and even essential to your wellbeing?
But how do you tell the difference? To help you out, we have put together our guide to understanding fats and what they can mean for your diet.
What are the different types of fats?
The chances are that you will have heard of the two main types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. But did you know that unsaturated fats can be split down into two separate categories as well (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)? As well as these, there are also Trans Fatty Acids to add into the mix too, so there’s no wonder the facts around fats can get a little complicated and confusing… To make things simpler, we are just going to focus on saturated and unsaturated fats for now.
Saturated vs. unsaturated
Saturated fats are often seen as the bad guys when it comes to nutritional fats. The most traditional variety of fat, you will find these in a wide range of food items, most of which are those that are animal based, such as meats, cheese, cream and butter. Given this, saturated fats are also present in most baked goods like pastries, biscuits and cakes. It is thought that your daily intake of saturated fat should never exceed 30g of you’re male, or 20g if you’re female. To put that into context, one Digestive Biscuit contains 10.9g (and no, we aren’t even talking about the chocolate ones).
But never fear, the good fats are here! The fats that are much more useful to our nutrition are the unsaturated variety, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risks too.
Not only are unsaturated fats found in delicious ingredients like nuts, olive oil and avocados, but you can also enjoy about double the amount compared to saturated (some health experts even suggest up to 62g a day). With one avocado containing around 25g, unsaturated fats are sounding pretty good to us!
The benefits… and the risks
It is important to remember that no food group should be cut out of your diet, as this can have a detrimental effect on your health. Fat is no different. Fatty acids are needed to enable your body to absorb a variety of different vitamins. Not only this, but fats also help to make sure that your brain functions and that your skin looks great too.
The idea is that you should definitely be focusing on eating more unsaturated fats then saturated fats. Unsaturated fats will lower your cholesterol and helps your body to develop new cells too. The opposite happens if you eat too many saturated fats. These can raise the cholesterol that is found within your blood, which will increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. So the best thing to do is look at the guidelines are stick within them, enjoying fats in the most creative and tasty way possible!