To keep fit and healthy it is essential that your intake of fats and oils be the ones which promote a healthy lifestyle.
Hydrogenated fats are the results of a process that hardens liquid vegetable oils. Margarine is an example of a hydrogenated fat, so chocolate, sweets, ice cream, pastries and baked goods all contain these fats. In our bodies hydrogenated fats change into the even more dangerous trans fatty acids which are shown to cause diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Trans fatty acids also cause weight gain as they interfere with the metabolism and breakdown of essential fatty acids.
Saturated fat poses a specific risk to health as it increases cholesterol levels in our blood. People with diets high in saturated fat - which are found mainly in animal-based foods e.g. dairy and meat products - have an greater than before risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Average adults get 13% of their complete energy intake from saturated fats, where the recommend maximum is 10 per cent.
Saturated animal fats solidify inside our bodies, hardening the arteries, putting you at risk of heart attack and stroke. Red meat, pork and dairy products are just a few examples of foods that are fat saturated. Our bodies are not designed to cope with these types of fats. High bad-fat diets will raise your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, will interfere with blood sugar levels and cause liver stagnation, which will lead weight gain and even contribute to depression. Our bodies cannot successfully process bad fats, so many are stored in the body, making you even fatter. By discarding all visible fat when preparing meat and choosing low- fat dairy products you will reduce your intake of saturated fat and help to cut calories and keeps your body healthy.
Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in animal fats, but are also produced during the manufacturing process called hydrogenation. The process changes the chemical structure of the fat that alters the way it is metabolised in the body. Studies show that trans fats are more harmful to your health than saturated fats. Average intakes are relatively low, most margarines have been changed to cut out trans fats, but they are still found in many savoury baked goods, cakes and biscuits, giving you another good reason to cut down on these calorie-laden foods.
Olive oil is the most commonly used oil rich in monounsaturated fat. It is a classic part of the Mediterranean diet and this has lent it an aura of health and vitality. The fact is, when monounsaturated fats are used in place of saturated fat, they do decrease the risk of heart disease. But it's important to use it as a substitute for saturated fat and not as an extra drizzle of oil on your meal. Olive oil's distinct taste may bring back memories of Greek Islands , so it's easy to forget it has just as many calories as lard!
Polyunsaturated fats became known by an ad campaign in the 1970s, which tried to persuade people to make the change from butter to margarine. It is mainly derived from vegetable sources and, when used to replace saturated fat, can significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. There are two groups of polyunsaturated fat - the omega-6 and omega-3. Recently there has been a major rise in the amount of omega-6 consumed as apposed to omega-3. Concern has been raised that this may be creating metabolic imbalances in our bodies. Although research is ongoing it's worth considering choosing a vegetable oil rich in omega-3, such as rapeseed, instead of the omega-6 rich sunflower oil.
Fish Oils are a special kind of omega-3. They are metabolically powerful and good for our health, even small quantities. Fish is the richest source of these omega oils, although they are also found in smaller quantities in meat. A number of other foods are now promoted as containing omega-3 oils. These include eggs, whose composition has been changed by giving different food to hens, and yogurts, where omega-3 oils have been added. Eating only 2 portions of oily fish a week can reduce the level of triglycerides in the blood, a risk factor for heart disease. There are reports of improvement in the symptoms of arthritis at relatively high doses, and recent suggestions that fish oil can increase the lQ and reduce behaviour problems in children are hotly debated.