Different types of fat
Fat will negatively impact our health if we consume it in excess or if we consume too much of the wrong type. In saying that, a small amount of dietary fat is essential for survival and good health:
- As insulation to keep us warm and as a form of padding to protect our organs.
- To aid in the absorption and transport of nutrients and regulation of hormone production.
Fats can be separated into four categories:
- Mono unsaturated
- Poly unsaturated
- Trans types.
These classes are based on the chemical structure. For health purposes, it is important to be aware of the different types and how they impact your health.
This is the “bad” type. Saturated fat is responsible for raising LDL (bad) blood cholesterol levels and thus greatly increasing the risk of heart disease and other lifestyle related disease. High levels of LDL cholesterol result in sticky fat deposits on the artery walls which narrows and blocks them over time. This inhibits blood flow and can result in heart attack and stroke.
Saturated fats come from animal sources but is also obtainable from palm oil, raw coconut and coconut oil/milk/cream!
Common foods that are high in saturated types:
- Deep fried, take away foods
- Manufactured products such as pasties, cakes, pies
- Meat e.g. some cuts of meat, chicken skin and processed meats such as salami and ham
- Whole milk products e.g. butter, cream, full cream milk / cheese
Choose products with below 3g of saturated fat per 100g
Unsaturated types actually have lowering effects on blood cholesterol levels when they replace saturated fats in your diet! They are considered “healthy” and are liquid at room temperature.
Commonly found in:
- Plant based oil e.g. peanut oil, canola oil, olive oil
- Nuts e.g. cashews and almonds
Poly unsaturated fats – In the form of omega-3 fat and omega-6 fats
Omega-3 fats have positive effects on brain function, lowering triglyceride levels, reducing inflammation and regulation of blood pressure/ blood clotting. These benefits are best received from seafood sources of omega 3.
Omega 3 fats are commonly found in:
- Oily fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna
- Canola based margarine, canola oil, soy oil
Omega 6 fats are essential for our bodies but can only be obtained through diet, the body can not make them. They are necessary for healthy brain function and growth/ development.
Omega 6 fats are commonly found in:
- Vegetable oils e.g. safflower, soybean, corn
- Nuts- brazil nuts, walnuts
Try replacing the foods in your diet that are high in saturated fats with foods that are higher in mono and poly unsaturated types instead. This will help keep your blood cholesterol levels within the healthy ranges.
Trans types are technically unsaturated but during manufacturing are altered so that they behave like saturated fat in the body. They increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels but also decrease HDL (good) cholesterol levels, making them even more harmful than saturated types. They are found naturally in meat and dairy products in small amounts. The main sources of trans fat is in manufactured products such as cakes, pastries, biscuits, butter, take-away food and some margarines.
Make an appointment
If you would like to learn more, contact the ENT Clinic today on 1300 123 368 and make an appointment with our accredited practising dietitian- Belinda Elwin. Belinda can provide information on healthy foods, tips to reduce your fat intake and assistance with weight management/high cholesterol.
For more information, read the article: ‘Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids’.