Saturated versus unsaturated fats

There is often the misconception that fats are bad for you. This is only true of certain types of fats and also depends on the amount of fats you consume. Fats are an essential part of our diets and the amount that we eat can have an impact on our health. Eating too much fats, and the wrong kind of fats can make a person become overweight and feel low in energy most of the time. The saying is true – we are what we eat, most of the time.

Also, scientific studies have pointed out that the way food is cooked is important because they can affect our health in the long-term. Baking and boiling is healthier than frying food.

Fats come from two different sources: they can come from plant sources (sunflower oil, coconut, palm oil, olive oil) or animal sources (cod liver oil, lard). Fats are made up of fatty acids that can either be saturated or unsaturated. Eating too much saturated fats is rendered bad for your health because it is the type of fat that can clog your arteries, and therefore in the worst case scenario, can lead to increased risk of heart or cardiovascular problems.

How to tell the difference between saturated and unsaturated food types?

There is an easy way to tell the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are ones mainly found in animals, such as meat and dairy, and are usually solid at room temperature around 23°C. However, there are also certain kind of fats which contain saturated fats, but not cholesterol such as coconut and palm kernel oil.

In contrast, the other kind of fats are unsaturated ones. Foods such as fish and plant-based foods contain unsaturated fats. “These are also known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats,” reports an expert Dietician, “they are also unsaturated fats”. Oils that are unsaturated are healthier because they do not add to cholesterol. It can also clog your arteries over time, leading to a higher chance of stroke or a heart attack.

So what kind of fats are best in food and for health?

Scientific research into food types suggests that unsaturated fats should be replaced by unsaturated fats and high quality carbohydrates rather than highly processed foods. The healthier option in terms of oils would be to cook with vegetable oils, and to consume more seeds and nuts.

Healthier fats/oils to cook with include olive oil, canola oil, or other vegetable oils rather than fats made from animals: butter, margarine and lard.

Although coconut oil is considered healthier than animal fats, or oils that derive from animal sources, olive oils or canola oil are seen as one of the healthiest oils to cook with especially on a daily basis.

Read about why olive oil is one of the healthiest fats on earth.