“Fat” is a buzzword in the heart health world! While some say, fats are good; others say they are bad. Fats are essential for building cell membranes, insulating nerves, and guaranteeing that numerous vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K, function properly. But, all fats are not good.1,2
The good, bad and ugly fats
In interesting research done in the 1960s, scientists found that heart disease is lower in Italy when compared to other parts of the world despite consumption of a fat-rich diet. The reason was, the fat-rich food they consumed had good fats.3
The goodness or badness of the fat is because of its chemistry. Bad fat is called “saturated fat”, good fat is called “unsaturated fat”, and there is an ugly fat called “trans fat”.
Good fat (unsaturated fat)
Good fats increase good cholesterol and they reduce the risk of heart disease. A type of good fat called omega-3 fatty acid help to boost heart health by improving cholesterol levels, reducing blood clotting, reducing irregular heartbeats and slightly lowering blood pressure.4
Bad fat (saturated fat)
Bad fat (saturated fat) increases bad cholesterol, decreases good cholesterol, and increases inflammation. eventually, even a small amount of bad-fat consumption is harmful and it increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.4
The ugly fat (trans fat)
The ugliest of all fats are trans fats; they are vegetable fats chemically converted to solids like dalda or vanaspati. They increase the chances of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. So, are strictly prohibited and are even banned in several countries.3
Differentiating good fats from bad fats
One of the easiest ways to differentiate good fat from bad fat is its origin. Good fats are generally of plant origin and bad fats are generally of animal origin. The other method is – good fats are often liquids at room temperature and bad fats are solid at room temperature. The below table gives you more details.3–5
Method of oil extraction and refining has an impact as well. Solvent extracted and refined oils, although pleasant in smell and appearance, they lack essential nutrients. Cold pressed oils are better as they are rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Besides, the oils your body gets by directly eating nuts, and seeds are also good.
All fats are not bad and they are essential for normal functions of the body. However, you must ensure you consume good fats. Try to make an effort to switch from unhealthy fats to healthy fats. Importantly, limit intake of good or bad fats – too much is always bad.6
disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. Please consult a qualified doctor before taking any decisions regarding recommendations in the article or for more information.
- Good Fats versus Bad Fats: A Comparison of Fatty Acids in the Promotion of Insulin Resistance, Inflammation, and Obesity, Mo Med. 2017 Jul-Aug; 114(4):303–307.
- Siri-Tarino, PW, Sun, Q., Hu, FB, & Krauss, RM (2010). Saturated Fatty Acids and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Modulation by Replacement Nutrients. Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 12(6), 384–390. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943062/
- Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good
- Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550
- Harvard T.H Chan. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/
- Pavlovska G, Jankuloska V, Knighs VA, et al. Differences in chemical parameters of cold pressed oil and refined cooking oil. Macedonian Journal of Animal Science. 2016;6(1):pp. 47–50.
MD Consultant Physician
(Brand Desk Content)