Fats and Oils

The name evokes a less than positive reaction! Because all heart ailments, obesity and diseases seem to be linked to consumption of oils or fats. s. As a result, grocery shelves are filled with food packages that proclaim their contents to be “low fat” or “fat free.”

This is not entirely correct. The main biological function of fats is as a fuel. The normal human body stores sufficient energy in fat for several weeks survival. This storage ability helps the organism deal with unpredictable variations in the food supply.  The body does need some oils and fat for lubrication, covering major organs and subcutaneous [under the skin]. Besides fat soluble Vitamins- A, D, E and K need fats for absorption and transportation in the body. Fat is needed to produce some hormones too.

The bad fats, saturated and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like liquid vegetable oil). Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. The bad fats, saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern.

Choose oils with less than 4 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, and no partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats.The “bad” fats, trans fats and saturated fats can be eliminated from your diet by avoiding fried foods processed foods, and bakery items.

Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden death.  Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure (slightly).

Fatty fish and fish oils contain Omega 3, vegetarian sources are flax seeds, chia seeds and nuts[ especially walnuts].

So….the next time you look at food, check the type of fat…and eat guilt free.


Deepa Kamath

Chief Dietician

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