Saturated fats and trans fats are harmful nutrients that people acquire from their diet. Excessive intake of these fats leads to high cholesterol levels in the body. An increase in bad cholesterol levels in the body leads to serious health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke.
It is important to identify foods that are high in fat and consume it in fewer quantities or avoid them altogether by replacing them with healthier food options.
10 high-fat foods to avoid
Foods that contain saturated fats and trans fats, which harm the body, include:
- Fried foods
- Fried chicken
- French fries
- Fast foods
- Full-fat dairy products
- Full fat cheese
- Fat yogurt
- Heavy cream
- Full fat milk
- Sour cream
- Ice cream
- Poultry skin
- Red meat
- Lamb's ribs
- Fatty meat
- Ground beef
- Processed meats
- Salted pork
- Lean turkey
- Hydrogenated oils
- Salad dressing
- Coconut oil and cream
- Palm oil
What are the benefits of fat?
Fats, also called fatty acids or lipids, are macronutrients that provide energy to the body.
While the body can produce some amount of fats, carbs, and proteins, a standard diet contains essential fatty acids, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids, which are converted into fat and stored in fat tissue, called adipose tissue, in the body.
The benefits of fat include:
- Helps absorb and digest fat-soluble nutrients,
- Produces hormones,
- Stores energy
- Provides thermal insulation,
- Insulates organs from external shock,
- Promotes healthy functions of cells, and
- Maintain good skin and hair health.
What are the different types of fats?
There are four major types of fats.
- Monounsaturated fats:
- Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that are beneficial to the heart and reduce bad cholesterol or the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in the body.
- These fats have a single bond structure and are found in foods, such as:
- Peanut butter
- Whole milk products
- Safflower oil
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Peanut oil
- Polyunsaturated fats:
- Polyunsaturated fats reduce bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in the body just like monounsaturated fats, which reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke. These fats have a double bond structure.
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, which are known to improve heart health. Because these fats cannot be produced by the body, they must be included in a balanced diet. Therefore, they are considered essential fatty acids.
- Foods rich in these essential fatty acids include
- Oily fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanut butter
- Flaxseed oil
- Canola oil
- Saturated fats:
- Saturated fats are considered harmful because they can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. This is one of the fats that should be kept to a minimum in the diet.
- Saturated fats are found in animal products and vegetable oils that are solid at room temperature. Examples include lard, cheese, beef fat, margarine, butter, cream, etc.
- Trans fats:
- Trans fats are formed during the process of hydrogenation of oils, which is a process where liquid oil is converted into solid fat. Using the same oil constantly to make fried foods generates trans fats.
- Trans fat, like saturated fat, can raise blood cholesterol levels. It is more dangerous than saturated fat, and for a heart-healthy diet, people should eat as little trans fats as possible by avoiding items containing them.
The American Diabetes Association recommends consuming more dietary monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than saturated or trans fats. The recommendations suggest a diet that has only five to six percent of the daily calorie intake from saturated fat.
People must limit their consumption of foods and snacks that contain saturated and trans fats while consuming a balanced diet that contains unsaturated fats.
The University of California. Guidelines for a Low Cholesterol, Low Saturated Fat Diet. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/guidelines-for-a-low-cholesterol-low-saturated-fat-diet
Texas Heart Institute. 14 Simple Ways to Reduce Saturated Fat. https://www.texasheart.org/heart-health/heart-information-center/topics/14-simple-ways-to-reduce-saturated-fat/
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