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Fat- it's healthy!

All this while we have been blaming fats for all the wrong things happening with our heart; But does that mean, a NO-FAT diet is the solution for all our health issues? If that was true, your cells would not be made up of a fatty layer, your organs would not covered by a layer of fat, you would not have fat as a cushion in your body to protect you from trauma. All this means that fat is very important for your body and hence, should be an important part of your diet as well. Your diet should provide essential fatty acids which keep skin soft, help to deliver fat soluble vitamins and act as a great fuelling source for the body. But here comes the catch - Differentiating between good and bad fat is most crucial aspect of one's diet. Good fats actually protect your heart in the long run. Unfortunately, we have such mouth-watering and tempting food all around us these days that we end up consuming more of bad fat than the good one.

Bad fats: (Solid at room temperature)

  • Saturated fats: are obtained from animal sources like red meat, chicken, egg yolk, butter, margarine, ghee, full fat milk etc. They increase the total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels which increase the risk of heart problems and also lead to type-2 diabetes.
  • Trans fats: are obtained by partially dehydrogenating edible oils which are used in processed foods like bakery foods, ready to eat packaged foods, fried foods etc to increase shelf life and reduce the cost. They are extremely harmful for the heart as they also increase bad cholesterol level and reduce good cholesterol levels.

Good fats: (Liquid at room temperature)

  • Monounsaturated fats (MUFA): These are edible oils which improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
  • Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA): This is a type of fat found abundantly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) like omega 6 improves blood cholesterol levels which can decrease your risk of heart disease. They can also reduce triglyceride levels and control inflammation.
  • Omega 3: This is a type of PUFA which is found in fish oil, flaxseeds, walnuts etc and has a host of health benefits. It helps to lower cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, controls diabetes, prevents depression, improves brain function, reduces joint pains, arthritis, supports a healthy pregnancy and improves brain function in the new born baby.
MUFA PUFA
Olive oil Soybean oil
Canola oil Corn oil
Sunflower oil Safflower oil
Peanut oil Walnuts
Sesame oil Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
Rice-bran oil Flaxseed
Avocados Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
Olives  
Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)  
Peanut butter  

Tips to cut bad fat and add good fat to your diet:

  • Reduce the consumption of red meat, beef, cheese, margarine and ghee.
  • Always remove the skin from the chicken before cooking it.
  • Seldom opt for processed foods like doughnuts, pastries, cookies, cakes, pizzas, crackers, biscuits, chips, deep frozen meat, ice creams etc.
  • Try to consume low fat milk or toned milk instead of full fat.
  • Do not consume more than 1 egg yolk/day.
  • Bake, boil, grill instead of frying.
  • Use olive oil, rice-bran oil or blend oils (mix of 2 oils) for cooking.
  • Try to rotate your oils every month to make sure you get all the essential fatty acids - use sunflower oil for one month and switch to rice-bran oil in the next month.
  • Opt for nuts as mid meal snacks instead of vada pav/burger/chaat etc.
  • Add avocados in your salad.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil for your salad dressings. Avoid cream and cheese dressings.
  • Consume fish 3 times a week (150gms each time) to meet your omega 3 needs.
  • Add 2-3 tbsp ground flaxseeds in your buttermilk, flour, dals, salads, soups etc. every day.

So now we know, all fats are not bad, it is what you choose which has an impact on your body, be it good or bad. Choose wisely, live healthy!!