Facts about fats – the good, the bad and the essential.

A lot of people shudder when they hear the word fat. However there are some fats that the body needs for optimum functioning. They are named essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are basically required by all living cells in the body to function properly. Therefore a lack of these can lead to many of the ailments associated with today’s living, for instance dry skin, joint pains, brittle hair, weak nails, heart disease and even cancer. Indicators show that over the years our eating habits have changed dramatically, leaving many people now lacking in these vital nutrients and furthermore, modern foods processing leaves many foods deficient in these oils. So, if you want to eat your way to good health, your diet has to be improved to include these essential fatty acids. The good sources for these oils are oily fish like mackerel, sardine, salmon etc. Other sources are walnuts and some other nuts, rapeseed oil amongst others. These are the essential fats.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in animal fats, such as meat and cheese. Too much can lead to high cholesterol levels, which has been lucked with heart disease. These are the bad fats.

Monounsaturated fats help to increase levels of good cholesterol in the body by removing bad cholesterol from the blood. Find them in nuts, peanut butter, avocado and olive oil.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in plant and fish and are usually liquid at room temperature unlike saturated fats they can’t be made in the body so we need to include them in our diet. These are the good fats.

They combine with oxygen and form free radicals that damage tissues and can put you at a higher risk for coronary heart disease and cancer, but some of these fats are necessary.

Omega 3s as are particularly important for reducing blood dotting and are found in polyunsaturated fats. When combined with a low intake of saturated fats they can actually help to decrease your risk of developing coronary heart disease, and can be found in oily fish.

Omega 6s are found primarily in vegetable oils, like sunflower seeds, sesame and safflower seed oil. These oils (like omega 3s) have the ability to regulate the delicate balance of lipoproteins and can reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good.