Are all fats bad for you? We all know that being ‘fat’ is an unhealthy thing but are fats bad for you as macronutrients? People are quick to confuse the macronutrient, fat, with the state of being fat. Fat is an underappreciated nutrient. Everyone tries to avoid it and the food industry is taking their fat pretty seriously! No wonder every food product we see is ‘light’ or ‘fat-free’. The food industry, every now and then, goes ahead and blacklists a macronutrient. These days its the carbohydrates but 2 decades ago, we had fat as the culprit. But if we don’t consume fats and carbohydrates, then what should we eat! This brings us to the answer of the original question; are all fats bad for you? The truth is that all fats aren’t made equal, some, I admit, are evil but others belong to the light side!
Fats in general are very beneficial for our body. Firstly, they are an excellent source of energy. Proteins and Carbohydrates give out 4 calories of energy per gram but fats contain 9 calories per gram. This calorie dense macronutrient comes in handy when you’re involved in any endurance activity such as long runs, cycling or any form of physical activity demanding extended period of exertion. Another quality of fat is that it acts as a solvent. Vitamins and minerals need a solvent to dissolve in order to get absorbed into the body. Many minerals and vitamins prefer water but there are other vitamins and minerals that are actually fat soluble. Enough fat in your diet ensures that these vitamins and minerals are properly absorbed from your GI tract. If you cut out fats completely from your diet, chances are that these vitamins and minerals will be secreted out of your body as waste because their solvent was missing. Examples of vitamins and minerals that are fat soluble include Vitamin A, D, E and K.
Primarily, fats are classified into 4 categories; saturated fats, monosaturated fats, polysaturated fats and trans fats. If we bring a little organic chemistry into our discussion, things will be easier to explain. All of these fats differ in chemical structure, more specifically the double bond between carbon atoms. Saturated fats have no double bonds; monosaturated fats have one d double bond where as polysaturated fats have multiple double bonds. The story for Trans Fat is a little different and it is for this reason this is the ‘evil fat’. Trans fats are made up of hydrogenated unsaturated fats. This means that through hydrogenation of vegetable oils, the structure of unsaturated fats is changed to the structure of Trans fat. This structure of Trans fat makes it very hard to be broken down and it is for this reason Trans fats should be avoided in your diet. Typical items that contain trans fat include Pastries, packages crisps (Most types, Margarine, Package biscuits.
The other 3 types of fats have various advantages if taken in moderation. Polyunsaturated fats are good for the heart and healthy cholesterol, sources include nuts, seeds and oily fish like Salmon and Mackerel. Although Saturated fats raise cholesterol, but they are important for producing various hormones in the boy. Examples include animal fat. Monosaturated fats found in olive oil and canola oil are beneficial for fighting cholesterol build up.
‘Too much love will kill you’, in the same way too much of everything is bad for the body. Consume fats in moderation and consider healthy sources like fish, seeds and nuts. Remember, all fats are not bad for you.