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A Simple Way To Understand Fats

"Don't take too much fats!" This is a piece of advice we used to get from people around us. Are all fats bad for us? Of course no! Nevertheless, before we can decide which fats we should take and which fats we should not take, it is better to understand the nature of fats and where they can be found in the foods we consumed.

For simplicity, we can classify these fats into three broad categories, namely unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.

Unsaturated Fats

This can be sub-divided into two classes, namely mono-unsaturated fat and poly-unsaturated fat. These fats are good because they lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol). Mono-unsaturated fat can be found in olives; olive oil; canola oil; peanut oil; cashews, almonds, peanuts and most other nuts; avocados, while poly-unsaturated fat is available in corn, soybean, safflower and cottonseed oils; fish.

Saturated Fats

The familiar saturated fat is embedded in most of our favorite foods such us whole milk, butter, cheese and ice cream; red meat; chocolate; coconuts, coconut milk and coconut oil. We are aware that these foods are unhealthy but yet cannot bear to stay away from. These fats raises both LDL (bad) and HDL (good).

Trans Fats

Trans fatty acid (TFA) are formed when liquid vegetable oils goes through "hydrogenation", a chemical process to make an oil more solid so that it has a longer shelf life in baked products, longer fry life for cooking oils, and can provide a certain kind of texture to processed foods. These fats can easily be found in hundreds of processed products of which the ingredients contain "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "hydrogenated vegetable oil". Most margarines; deep-fried chips; many fast foods and most commercial baked goods are producers of trans fats. They raise not only LDL (bad) and but also lower HDL (good). In reality, they are the most harmful materials that we are taking without any notice.

What harms can trans fat do to us? Two of the most possible ones are:

  1. It clogs the arteries of the heart, making them more rigid.

  2. It increases insulin resistance, increasing your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Spending over US$100 million on three clinical studies, Harvard University has reported that people who eat significant amounts of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil are more prone to the risk of heart disease. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has enacted legislation on July 9, 2003 requiring manufacturers of food and some dietary supplements to list trans fat on a separate line, and is effective from January next year. FDA estimates that three years after the effective date, trans fat labeling would annually prevent some 600 to 1200 heart attacks and could save 250 to 500 lives.

It may be unrealistic to avoid all trans fat as it can be found in some natural dairy products, too. The best approach is to consume less processed foods that are possible sources of trans fats. So, the next time when you go to supermarkets to replenish your foods, don't forget to look at the labels before you take them home.

 

 

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