What is fat?
There are actually many types of fat. In our diet, they come from both animals and plants. As well, there is the fat that our bodies produce.
Dietary fat from food sources is a nutrient that plays an important part in our daily diet. While it can often be treated as a bad component of our daily intake, our bodies do require some dietary fat to help us to function more efficiently. For example, some vitamins need to be dissolved in fat before they can nourish the body.
You may have read or heard about good fats and bad fats and about the different categories of fat. See overview below.
Unsaturated fats, which generally come from vegetable and fish sources, are considered a healthier type of fat. The three categories are:
- Monounsaturated (which are found in a variety of foods and oils)
- Polyunsaturated (which are mainly from plants and oils)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (which are mainly derived from fatty fish, but also some plants)
Generally, foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (they are oils from plants such as olives, coconuts, peanuts, soya, corn, etc.).
Fish with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, fresh tuna, trout, mackerel and sardines.
Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include ground flaxseed, some oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), nuts and seeds.
Fats to watch out for
Saturated, hydrogenated and trans fats.
These types of fats are insoluble in water and will become solid when left at room temperature.
They are mainly derived from animal sources and an excess of this type of fat in the body can cause health problems such as heart disease.
Cholesterol is a type of fat produced by the body and carried by our blood. It can also be found in foods such as shellfish, eggs and liver.
Cholesterol is essential to maintaining a healthy body. However, too much cholesterol can lead to health issues, which are often exacerbated by the consumption of too much saturated fat.
Keep a check on your fat intake
|Be aware of how much fat you are consuming every day|
|Read the labels on foods to see what type of fat they contain|
|Switch to healthier oils or foods with a lower proportion of fat and increase your consumption of oily fish, rich in omega-3|