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Fats may not be as bad as you think

The American Heart Association recommends up to 30 per cent of the total energy intake should come from healthy fat

Fats have gained ill fame over time regarding their consumption particularly in today’s world when lifestyle diseases are on the upswing. However, not all fats can be labelled as demons and one should know what type of fats should make up their food plate.

Adding a little number of healthy fats to your food not only adds flavour to it but also reduces unwanted snacking in between the meals by keeping you fuller.

No one can survive on tasteless food forever, so if you are eliminating fat from your plate, chances are high you will end up adding an alternate in the form of sugar or other chemicals to compensate for the lost taste.

So, how fats are good?

Fats are one of the major food groups that our body needs to maintain health and carry out cardinal bodily functions. In fact, AHA (American Heart Association) recommends up to 30 per cent of your total energy intake should come from healthy fat.

Apart from acting as a major source of energy, fats provide cushioning to the various organs in the body, form the structural network of cells, and help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) as well as keep you satiated for longer.

According to a chapter published in the National Library of Medicine, fats affect satiety and control the appetite through the regulation of appetite hormones. Moreover, your skin loses shine and hair becomes frizzy when the body is not getting adequate fat.

What are the good and the bad ones?

There are major three types of fats namely saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats.

Saturated fats are present in fatty meats, full-fat dairy, poultry skin, as well as oils like coconut and palm oils. Saturated fats solidify at room temperatures and should be consumed in a very limited way.

Then we have unsaturated fats which stay liquid at room temperatures because of the nature of chemical bonds present in them and can be found in plant vegetable oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, nuts and nut oils, salmon and mackerel.

Further categorised into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids), they are considered heart healthy and must be included in your foods.

Lastly, trans fats (present in partially hydrogenated oils) which is the actual culprit and should be avoided at all costs; it is found in processed snacks, margarine, fried fast food items, vegetable shortenings, and baked goods. Even in small quantities they are harmful and disease inducers.

When to avoid or limit?

If you have any lifestyle disease (diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems) your healthcare provider will decide the fat intake for you best suited depending on your health status. Other than that, for healthy individuals, make sure you are providing yourself with the right fat content your body needs.

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