Busting the Myth: Are All Kinds of Fat Bad?
When we hear the word ‘fat’, we’d most likely equate it with high cholesterol, obesity and heart illnesses. This definition brings some healthy-lifestyle enthusiasts to suggest going on a low or even non-fat diet. Who wouldn’t want to cut down on as much fat as one can, right?
However, let’s face some facts about fat. First fact: our body needs fat in order for it to function properly.
It may be hard to believe, but in our diet, fat is one of the major components that are essential for good health. Fats and oils are made up of large molecules of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that provide us with energy just like carbohydrates, as cited by the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, Inc. (ISEO). Fat’s primary function is to provide energy and help form the structural material of cells.
This brings us to the main fact that not all fat is bad. Some can actually help us stay healthy and maintain our best shape.
So, what kinds of fat are good for you, and which ones are bad?
Types of Fat
Saturated fats are basically solid at room temperature. Usually found in livestock, poultry, dairy, palm and coconut oils, this type of fat serves as a concentrated source of energy in your diet, as well as provides the building blocks for cell membranes and various hormones. They also carry fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.
However, consuming great amounts of saturated fat found in fatty snacks, deep fried food and various cakes or pastries may increase your risk for heart disease and high blood cholesterol. Dieticians suggest that reducing your intake of saturated fat to no more than 7-10 percent may help lower your cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats are actually an important part of your diet. Normally found in fish, vegetable, nuts, soybean and avocado, this type of fat, which is liquid in room temperature, may help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels when consumed in replace of saturated fat. This is because the fat increases High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), helps remove excess cholesterol in your blood, as the National Heart and Lung Institute claims.
There are two main types of unsaturated fat:
- Polyunsaturated fat – This type of fat is normally found in fish (omega-3 fat), oils such as safflower and soybean oils, and nuts (omega-6 fat). This fat is essential for brain function and cell growth.
- Monounsaturated fat – Usually found in olive and canola oils, avocados and nuts, this type of fat also carries vitamin E and can help reduce the risk for breast cancer and eliminate belly fat.
Also known as partially hydrogenated oils, trans fatty acids are unsaturated fats that have been processed by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Found in many packaged products, fried food and even baked goods, trans fat lowers your good cholesterol and raises your bad cholesterol levels in your body, leading to a higher risk of heart disease.
In 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an order requiring food manufacturers to list trans fat content on the Nutrition Facts panel of packaged goods. Also, in 2015, the organization proposed to effectively ban artificial trans fats from various foods, giving companies three years to eliminate the said content from their products.
Meanwhile in the Philippines, the FDA released an order in 2014 mandating food manufacturers to list all nutrition facts, including fat content, of pre-packaged food products distributed in the country.
In case you find a food product that does not have any nutritional facts on the packaging, you may directly report this by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the FDA CFRR Customer Service Hotline at (02) 857-1984.
Not all fats are equally bad for you, and knowing the various health benefits and risks of each type can actually help you choose the right food to include in your diet.
We, at SGS, can help you verify that the nutritional content shown on whatever food product you consume is true and accurate through our fat and nutritional analyses. For more inquiries, you can contact us here or drop us a message on our official Facebook page @SGSPhilippines.
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.