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Healthy Fats: Why You Need Them?

Healthy Fats: Why They Are Essential for Your Diet.
October 19, 2023

Do the words trigger a sense of caution in you? The key is to understand the difference between good & bad fats - include the good fats, eliminate the bad fats. For many decades now, fats have been synonymous with innumerable health problems. During the perimenopausal and postmenopausal stages, the way fats are metabolised in the body is altered. This leads to a host of metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. But that does not mean we have to eliminate fats from our diet! 

They are actually a very important and essential food group because they have so many important functions

  • Vital for functioning of the brain and nervous system 
  • Important source of energy 
  • Play a role in absorption of fat soluble vitamins- A, D, E and K.
  • Help in the regulation of temperature & keep us warm. 
  • Along with proteins, they form building blocks of the body & cells

So, the key is to understand the difference between good and bad fats, including the good fats while eliminating the bad fats. 

Good and bad fats: 

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: These are good fats and are healthy for you. They improve the good cholesterol (yes, it exists) and help in reducing inflammation. Inflammation is considered a risk factor for heart diseases. These fats are mostly liquid at room temperature and are found in plant-based foods. Ex: vegetable oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados as well as pure, home made ghee from either cow or buffalo milk.

Omega-3 fats: They are a type of polyunsaturated fat that help protect against heart diseases and help in lowering blood pressure. These fats should be consumed several times a week as the body does not make them. Cold-water fish like mackerel, tuna and sardines are a good source but chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts also contain them in smaller amounts. 

Saturated fats: It is recommended to have them in moderation since medical opinion is divided regarding their risk to benefit ratio. Most are solids at room temperature. Red meats, butter, cheese, and ice cream are rich in saturated fats, so it is advisable to consume these foods in limited quantities.

Trans fat: This is the most harmful form of fat and traces of it are found in red meat, processed and packaged foods as well as fast foods. In almost all kinds of packaged foods,  the fats are hydrogenated, turning them into trans fats to increase the shelf life of the product. But unfortunately this doesn’t help our health, and is in fact harmful for our health. These trans fats raise the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in our blood and reduce the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.