Our certified nutritionist at 180 Fitness in Gloucester, ON, gets a lot of questions when she recommends eating healthy fat. She also gets questions on the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat and whether eating any fat is healthy. The answer to the second question is easy, some fats are not only healthy, but necessary to keep your body running at peak performance and good health. Identifying which fats are good for you and which ones aren’t is important.
How can you tell the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat?
You can tell the difference in one way by simply looking at the fat at room temperature. Saturated fats are normally solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats are normally liquid. Let’s look at all types of fats to see the chemical difference. Fats are classified four different ways, saturated, unsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fats. Trans fats are bad for you. Trans fats are created artificially in a process that increases the hydrogen to a liquid vegetable oil to make it solid and have a longer shelf life. Other fats vary by the bonding with hydrogen. It determines whether they’re solid or liquid at room temperature.
While you may have heard saturated fat is bad for you, it’s not.
Even in food there are smear campaigns and that’s what happened to fat. In the 1960s the sugar industry paid three Harvard scientists $50,000 a piece to do a mega study that cherry picked information to point consuming fats as the cause heart disease and take the heat off the sugar industry, which is the real culprit. A 2019 study showed that decreasing saturated fat gave no health benefits and didn’t reduce heart disease.
You need saturated fat and unsaturated fat.
Cell membranes are 50% saturated fat and can’t build cell membranes without it. It’s necessary to use calcium in the body. Fat is important to a healthy nervous system. Inflammation, which protects the body from infection and contaminants, and blood clotting requires fat. Saturated fat helps the immune system and protects the liver. Unsaturated fat lowers inflammation and aids in preventing heart disease. However, nutritionists still suggest you choose unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat and consume no trans fats. You need fat to help absorb vitamin A, D. E and K. Fats are also necessary for the production of hormones, which are the body’s messengers for proper functioning.
- Within the classifications of unsaturated fat, there are two types of unsaturated fat, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fat aids in reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and more. Monounsaturated fat helps control blood sugar.
- Polyunsaturated fat is found in walnuts, Brazil nuts, flaxseed, poppy seed and chia seeds. Monounsaturated fat is found in pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, olive oil and avocado.
- If you want to give up saturated fat, consider giving up sources like fatty cuts of meat or ice cream. They are a source of medium-chain triglycerides, also called MCT.
- Saturated fat does provide health benefits, but you can also switch some of your daily choices to food that has unsaturated fat, such as fatty fish like salmon, nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados.
For more information, contact us today at 180 Fitness