Food contains several kinds of fats, some healthy and heart friendly whereas a few are harmful for health. All fats do not work in a similar fashion. We need to consume certain amounts of good fat so as to maintain a balanced dietary intake. Curtailing fat completely is surely not called for! In fact, the key to good health lies in the mix of fats that you eat. Cholesterol is needed by our body to preserve the integrity of myelin sheath within the brain.
Facts about dietary fats
Fat is essential for our body as it supports numerous body functions.
Dietary fats are classified into healthy and harmful dietary fat. All foods have a mixture of fats; they are classified based on the predominance of a certain type of fat.
Heart healthy fats
Heart healthy dietary fat comprises unsaturated fat:
Monounsaturated fat: Found in oils and other food items. It helps to improve good cholesterol or HDL (high density lipoprotein) in the body. American Heart Association considers that HDL values lower than 50 mg/dL for women (it is 40 mg/dL for men) can accentuate the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Sources of monounsaturated fat include:
Polyunsaturated fat (omega 6): Found in oils and plant based foods. Reduces risk for heart disease and promotes good cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats can help lower your total cholesterol level.
Sources of polyunsaturated fat include:
Omega 3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fishes and helps in reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases and blood pressure related health problems. Source of omega-3 fatty acids are:
Harmful dietary fats
Harmful dietary fats can raise the LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) in the body and may make the lining of blood vessel inflexible. They can be classified as:
Saturated fat: This type of fat is mostly derived from animals. Saturated fat can raise diabetes levels, total blood cholesterol levels and LDL in blood which in turn that can raise the risk of coronary heart diseases. Sources of saturated fat include:
Trans fat: This occurs naturally in many food items and is found in animal sources. Most of the trans fat gets generated while food is being cooked. This type of fat causes spurt in HDL and LDL levels in the blood. Sources of trans fat include:
Cholesterol: Cholesterol is not fat however it is a fat-like substance that is waxy. Human body manufactures some cholesterol and some cholesterol is derived from animals. Cholesterol is vital for the body as it helps the body to build cells and produce certain hormones. However we should keep in mind that this required cholesterol is produced by the body itself.
"Cholesterol helps break down food into essential nutrients. Combined with liver, it produces bile acids which are essential for the digestion of fats and clearing the waste. Cholesterol acts to interlock 'lipid molecules,' which stabilize cell membranes. Therefore, it is a vital building block for all bodily tissues." Says Shane Elison in his book 'Over the Counter Natural Cures' about Cholesterol.
Sources of cholesterol include:
Recommendations for heart healthy dietary fat
|Type of fat||Food source||Suggested intake|
|Total fat||Plant and animal based food||Includes all types of fat and can be 20% - 30% of total calorie intake|
|Monounsaturated fat||Olive oil, poultry, canola oil, peanut oil avocado, nuts and seeds||No specific recommendation on intake however should remain within the healthy limits|
|Polyunsaturated fat||Poultry, vegetable oil, nut oil and nuts and seeds||No specific recommendation on intake however should remain within the healthy limits|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||Walnuts, fatty fish, flax oil, ground flaxseed||No specific recommendation on intake however should remain within the healthy limits|
|Saturated fat||Butter, coconut, cheese, pizza, sausage, hot dogs, grain based deserts, etc||Not more than 10% of the total calorie intake|
|Trans fat||Cookies, cakes, snack foods, margarine, etc||Better if avoided, however minimal intake is suggested|
|Cholesterol||Dairy products, sea food, eggs, beef, hamburger, etc||Less than 300mg a day|
Choose the best heart healthy dietary fat
Heart healthy diet