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Diet & Nutrition

10 Healthy Fats for Menopause found in Indian Kitchen

“Dietary fats” 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.
Deepti Prasad
October 19, 2023

For many decades now, fats have been synonymous with innumerable health problems. While the metabolism of fats undergoes alterations during perimenopausal and postmenopausal stages, it is crucial to distinguish between good and bad fats to maintain optimal health. Contrary to the misconception that fats should be eliminated, incorporating the right fats into your diet is essential for well-being. Here, we explore 10 healthy fats found in the Indian kitchen that can be particularly beneficial during menopause.

But first, let’s understand the science.

Understanding Fats: Good vs Bad

Fats play vital roles in our health, serving as a source of energy, supporting brain function, aiding in nutrient absorption, and forming essential building blocks. It's crucial to distinguish between good and bad fats.

Good Fats:

  • Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats: Found in plant-based foods like vegetable oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados, these fats enhance good cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and promote heart health.
  • Omega-3 Fats: Present in cold-water fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts, they protect against heart diseases and help lower blood pressure.

Harmful Fats:

  • Saturated Fats: Moderation is key for saturated fats found in red meats, butter, cheese, and ice cream, as opinions on their risk-to-benefit ratio vary.
  • Trans Fat: The most harmful form, found in processed and packaged foods, raises bad cholesterol and should be eliminated from the diet.

Understanding Cholesterol: Good vs Bad

Cholesterol, a waxy substance in our cells and liver, has types with varying effects on health.

Types of Cholesterol:

  • LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein): Known as "bad cholesterol," it leads to arterial build-ups, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein): Recognized as "good cholesterol," it protects the heart and brain by transporting bad cholesterol away from arteries.

Dietary Considerations:

  • Cholesterol in Food: Only 20% of body cholesterol comes from food like eggs, red meat, and fried items. Plant-based sources such as safflower oil, flaxseeds, and nuts offer digestible alternatives that aid in lowering bad cholesterol and improving good cholesterol.

Cholesterol and Menopause: Is there a connection?

The intricate relationship between menopause and cholesterol unfolds as estrogen levels decline. This hormonal shift contributes to a rise in bad cholesterol (LDL) and a decline in good cholesterol (HDL), elevating the risk of obesity and heart-related issues in women. Vigilance becomes crucial, prompting the need for regular cholesterol check-ups.

Achieving a balance is the key – aiming for an LDL count of 100 or less is deemed healthy, while an HDL count of 50 or more brings additional benefits. The combined total of both should not exceed 200. Maintaining optimal cholesterol levels during menopause is within reach through a holistic approach.

10 Healthy Fats for Menopause found in Indian Kitchen

1. Ghee (Clarified Butter)

A staple in Indian households, ghee is rich in saturated fats and provides essential fatty acids. It supports brain function, aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and offers a source of sustainable energy.

2. Coconut Oil

Widely used in Indian cooking, coconut oil is rich in saturated fats that contribute to quick energy. Additionally, it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), promoting weight management and cognitive function.

3. Mustard Oil

A common cooking oil in Indian cuisine, mustard oil is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, supporting heart health and reducing inflammation.

4. Nuts and Seeds

Include almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds in your diet. These are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, providing omega-3 fatty acids and essential vitamins. They promote heart health and offer sustained energy.

5. Sesame Seeds (Til)

Used extensively in Indian recipes, sesame seeds are an excellent source of polyunsaturated fats. Sesame oil, derived from these seeds, is heart-friendly and adds a distinct flavor to dishes.

6. Flaxseeds

A powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans, flaxseeds can be easily incorporated into Indian meals. They support heart health and help reduce inflammation.

7. Fatty Fish (like mackerel and sardines)

Incorporate cold-water fish into your diet for a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel and sardines are readily available and contribute to heart health.

8. Homemade Peanut Butter

Prepare peanut butter at home using roasted peanuts. It's a delicious spread rich in monounsaturated fats, protein, and essential nutrients.

9. Sunflower Seeds

An excellent source of vitamin E and healthy fats, sunflower seeds can be sprinkled on salads or added to various dishes to enhance nutritional content.

10. Safflower Oil (Kusum Tel)

Used for cooking in many Indian households, safflower oil is low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats. It supports heart health and can be part of a balanced diet.

Let’s conclude

Fat isn’t bad for you. Your body needs some fat from food. Fat provides you energy to power through the day, it helps absorb vital nutrients from the food you eat, and your body needs it to build cell membranes. You need fats to keep your muscles moving and to help in blood clotting. All you must do is consume more of the good fats, cut down on the not-so-good ones and eliminate the bad trans-fats completely from your diet.