Everything about Fats: Are all Fats harmful?

Practical Guide to distinguish different types of Fats that make food and improve diet

The significant increase in diet – related diseases (obesity, hyper cholesterolemia, etc.) has meant that more and more people are interested in food and try to lead a healthier and more balanced diet befitting a healthy lifestyle. Hence the interest in knowing the calories consumed and the type of Fats – containing foods. Labels concepts such as “saturated fat”, “vegetable fats”, “partially hydrogenated fats” or “trans fats” are read. What do these terms mean? Are there healthier than other fats? What should know better choose what to take? The following article explains what kind of fat exists and how they affect health.

Fats, all is not harmful

Fat or dietary lipids are one of the major energy sources for humans. They have recently acquired a bad reputation because they are one of the most important sources of calories and are associated with excessive energy consumption harmful to health. However, some types of fats are essential for optimal health: have essential fatty acids (not synthesized by humans and essential for proper functioning of the body) are the vehicle of fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K ) and precursors of molecules with important biological functions. In parallel, excessive intake of fat in recent years that we should be cautious and avoid excessive consumption.

Different types of fats

Most of the fat that are consumed in foods like fatty acids , some chemical structures that are grouped in the form of triglycerides (i.e., three fatty acids). Different types of fat differ among them according to the type of fatty acids constituting these compounds (by length or number of carbon atoms and number of double bonds presented).


Saturated fat. Are those composed of saturated fatty acids (i.e. fatty acids show no double bond). Fat rich in saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature, like butter.

Unsaturated fats. Those that have a double bond (monounsaturated) or two or more double bonds (polyunsaturated). Foods rich in unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. An example is olive oil.

Tran’s fat. The cist / Trans concept indicates the spatial configuration (so that they acquire in space fatty acids). Most fatty acids present in foods acquire a cist spatial configuration. Few natural fat reach a Trans configuration; only the fats that have undergone fermentation in the stomach of ruminants and found in meat or milk. Also through the industrial process of partial hydrogenation (used for more solid fats from vegetable oils or other animal fat) or deodorizing (process used for refining oils or fats) can be obtained these fats. During heating and frying at high temperatures Trans fats can also occur.

And the omega 3? The omega designation indicates the position of the double bonds. For example, an omega – 3 fatty acid is a fatty acid having the first double bond in the carbon number three.

What foods are fat source ?

Most foods are mixtures of saturated and unsaturated fat, although they dominate some fat. Vegetable oils (oils derived from plants) and animal fat are the most abundant lipid dietary sources.

In general, vegetable oils are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Such is the example of olive oil (rich in monosinsaturada fat), sunflower and corn oil (rich in polyunsaturated fat). Exceptions are coconut oil, palm and palm kernel plus cocoa butter; rich in saturated fat. Animal fats have a higher saturated fat content that plant; Examples include butter, lard, beef or lamb. Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts) contain a high proportion of mono and polyunsaturated fat.

What health effects do different types of fats?

In general, the fatty acid intake is associated saturated with poor lipid profile (cholesterol and total LDL cholesterol) and therefore to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. So experts recommend today moderate consumption of saturated fat to a maximum of 10% of total caloric intake by avoiding foods that are sources of these fats.

fast food collection on on white background
fast food collection on on white background

Studies show that diets rich in fat monounsaturated have beneficial effects on lipid profile and several cardiovascular risk factors, so that recommend eating monounsaturated fat as the main source of dietary fat. Apparently, the monounsaturated fat could also be beneficial for preventing diabetes.

Fat intake polyunsaturated omega – 6 has proven beneficial for the cardiovascular risk and risk of diabetes. Regarding the polyunsaturated omega – 3 fat, studies have found a reduction of cardiovascular events associated with the consumption of fish and fish oils rich in EPA and DHA (omega 3), so experts recommend including oily fish, rich in omega 3, in the diet.

Consumption of fatty acids trans is related mainly with cardiovascular disease, so that the intake of this type of fat should be as low as possible and not exceed 1% of total caloric intake. Notably, in recent years, the food industry has worked hard to reduce the amount of Tran’s fat in its industrial processes.

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