From the very beginning, the words ‘fats and oils’ have gained an unforgiving reputation. Not only have they been blamed for weight gain, they have been said to be the cause of heart disease, Metabolic X Syndrome and many other lifestyle diseases. Whilst this may not be entirely incorrect, there is more to fat than meets the eye.
Different types of fats and their health benefits Fats play a very important role in the general wellbeing of your body and have many functions:
- Fats provide your body with insulation;
- Fats help transport the fat-soluble vitamins around your body;
- Fats provide protection to vital organs such as the liver;
- Fat supports hormone production.
There are many different types of fats that are sourced from the food we eat and can be classified into 4 groups:
- Saturated fat found in foods such as meat and butter;
- Monounsaturated fat found in foods such as avocados.
- Polyunsaturated fat is divided further into fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6;
- Trans fats are highly processed and are added to biscuits, cakes, margarines ‘Trans fat increases your risk of heart disease by increasing the bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowering the good (HDL) cholesterol in our blood.’
According to the Heart Foundation ‘healthier fats in your diet help reduce the risk of heart disease
According to the Heart Foundation ‘healthier fats in your diet help reduce the risk of heart disease. Healthier fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6).’
Cholesterol is found in all animal products or animal by-products. It is produced in the body and plays a very important role in ensuring optimal health. It is only when we have excess that it begins to cause damage to our health. Better Health says that when cholesterol levels are chronically high, we are at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Cholesterol is found in numerous parts of the body and has many functions:
- It is used to produce hormones such as estrogen and testosterone;
- Cholesterol assists in the production of bile acids;
- It is the main constituent of cell membranes and structures.
As mentioned previously omega 3 fatty acids are classified as polyunsaturated fats and are classified as essential fatty acids. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and ALA (plant based) belong to the group of omega 3 fatty acids. Due to this, it is vital that sufficient sources from either the diet or from supplements are consumed. Omega 3 fatty acid can be found in cold water fish include salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout and mackerel. EPA and DHA are vital for our health and wellbeing:
- EPA is acts as an anti inflammatory;
- DHA is particularly important during pregnancy as it supports fetal brain development.
This is a polyunsaturated fat and is found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. For optimal health, omega 3 and omega 6 be balanced. Due to over processing, the foods we eat contain excess omega 6, it is therefore important to balance this with the consumption of omega 3 in the form of supplements or an intake of 2-3 servings of fish per week.
Omega 3 fatty acid can be found in cold water fish include salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout, and mackerel.
Unlike Omega 3 and Omega 6, Omega 9 is not an essential fat as it can be produced in the body. Omega 9 can be found in vegetable oils, avocado and nuts.
Thanks to: Amanda from www.organicfood.com.au for this article.
 https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/ healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/fats-and- cholesterol/saturated-and-trans-fat
 https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/ health/conditionsandtreatments/cholesterol