Fats are a type of fundamental nutrient in our diet. Healthy fats are essential to maintain a hormonal balance and the health of our body.
Believing that all fats are wrong is a thing of the past. However, distinguishing between the good and the bad may seem more complex than it looks.
This article analyzes which are the healthy fats that you should include in your diet and what are the differences between the bad fats that you should avoid.
What are the healthy or good fats?
In choosing good fats, several parameters must be taken into account.
If they are saturated or unsaturated, their origin (vegetable or animal), the length of their carbon chains, and if they are Omega-3 or not.
As a general rule, it can be said that vegetable fats are healthier than animal fats. This is because their structure is more flexible, and our body can process them better.
Healthy vegetable oils fall into this category: olive oil, chia oil, rapeseed, etc. In addition, coconut oil must be included, a type of saturated fat with a very particular structure that allows it to be included as healthy.
On the other hand, although most animal fats are considered flawed. The Omega-3, found in high concentrations in fish, is a type of healthy fat with extensive benefits for our body.
Examples of healthy fats:
- Polyunsaturated vegetable oils – olive, canola, chia, avocado, etc.
- omega-3 animals – fish oil, tuna, blue sea fish
- medium chain saturated fat – coconut oil, MCT oil
Bad Fats: What Are They?
Without a doubt, the first place among bad fats is led by trans fats. It is recommended that trans fats do not contribute more than 2% of total calories.
Trans fats are formed by hydrogenating vegetable oils and are found in foods like fast food, popcorn, and some bakery products. In addition, some ultra-processed foods contain them by processing palm oil at high temperatures.
Saturated fats are second in the ranking of bad fats. However, in this group, it is not correct to generalize. For example, coconut oil is saturated fat and is considered healthy. It is one of the best fats for frying.
Depending on the length of their carbon chains, they can be considered healthy or not. To follow a rule, it could be said that saturated fats of animal origin are wrong, and vegetables are good.
Examples of bad fats:
- trans fats – fried foods, processed foods,
- long-chain saturated fat – butter, most animal fats
- Vegetable oils with excess omega-6 – soy, corn, etc.
Good Fats in Oils – Which is Better?
In the case of oils, the easiest thing to do is to look at the product label for the number of unsaturations to choose those with more good fats.
These are listed as polyunsaturated fats and unsaturated fats. The higher the polyunsaturated content, the better.
This is the case with olive oil, canola oil, flax oil, and chia oil. An exception is coconut oil, which is saturated but healthy.
In addition, the relationship between Omega-6 and Omega-3 is another essential factor to take into account. Eating an excess of oils high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3 is considered bad for your health.
Nuts contain healthy fats.
Nuts are foods that have a high content of monounsaturated fats. These fats are good, and these foods are also accompanied by healthy vitamins.
Also, nuts contain sterols. A type of molecule that contributes to the reduction of triglyceride levels. As well as reducing the risk of diseases associated with the heart. (4)
If you are looking to choose foods that contain healthy and not bad fats, you should include nuts in your diet.
Why should you eat healthy fats?
The first thing most people try to lose weight is to cut down on fat. They begin to eat only skim cheese; and low-fat milk.
This is not considered healthy behavior. At the same time, it is customary to make a direct relationship between the fat in food and the fat deposits in the body. This is an association that you must begin to eradicate.
In many cases, fat-free products are more damaging in nutrition than their “fat” counterparts. Since these are usually added to simple carbohydrates, like sugar, these compounds are considered even more alarming than saturated fats.
Healthy fats are necessary for:
- Achieve hormonal balance
- Vitamin absorption
- The health of the skin and other vital organs
Are animal fats bad?
Saturated fats of animal origin are mostly made up of palmitic acid—an acid with 16 carbon atoms.
In beef and yolks, the figure reaches 20-25%. The excess of this type of fat in the diet is related to higher cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. (2,3,4)
However, animal fats, despite their origin, should not be considered all bad fats. In some cases, such as Omega-3 fish oils, these fats are healthy and better absorbed.
- Healthy fats and oils should be a fundamental component of the diet and should not be eliminated, even to lose weight.
- As a general rule, unsaturated fats of plant origin are healthier than saturated fats of animal origin.
- Exceptions: omega-3 fatty acids and coconut oil.
- Healthy fats contribute to the proper functioning of metabolism, vitamin absorption, and hormonal regulation.