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When it comes to diet, fat has a bad reputation. While it is justified to some extent, with certain types playing a role in heart diseases, diabetes, cancer and obesity. But more than just the quantity of fat, it is the quality of fat that you eat which really matters.

All types of fat provide the same number of calories (9kcal/g), which means you need to be careful about your fat choices that will help you lose weight.

Making sense of dietary fat

Found in foods from plants and animals, here are the major types:

  • Monounsaturated fat
  • Polyunsaturated fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat

The Good Guys

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are considered to be more heart-healthy that can be included in the diet, in moderation. Foods that chiefly comprise of these fats are usually found to be liquid at room temperature, for example- vegetable oil. Eating foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can improve blood cholesterol level and lower the risk of heart diseases and may also be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels, especially if you have Type 2 diabetes.

Monounsaturated Fat

Polyunsaturated Fat

Nuts (almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashewnuts) Walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
Olives Soy and tofu, Spinach, Kale, Parsley
Avocados Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines)

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A certain type of this fat- omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to be particularly heart healthy and helpful in weight loss. Not only guarding against the risk of coronary artery disease, but also lowers the blood pressure, contains anti-inflammatory derivatives, supports healthy pregnancy, sharpens your memory, reduced the symptoms of ADHD, bipolar disorder and depression.

The Ones to Avoid

Saturated fats

This type of fats is mostly animal-based and found in meats and dairy products. Some of the most common sources for Saturated fats include:

•           Fatty meat cuts of beef, pork and lamb/ goat

•           Dark meat of chicken

•           High fat dairy (whole milk, butter, cheese, curd, ice cream)

•           Tropical oils (coconut, palm oil, cocoa butter)

Diets with larger amounts of saturated fats in combination with refined carbs can increase LDL levels and thereby posing a risk to heart health and an increased possibility for Type 2 diabetes. However, limiting the consumption of saturated fat sources and switching to a healthier lifestyle can help lower the health risks.

Trans fat

Small amounts of naturally-occurring Trans fats can be found in meat and dairy products but it’s the artificial trans fat that are considered dangerous. Trans fats are the normal fat molecules that undergo deformation during the process of hydrogenation. These are the culprit substances that raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower the HDL (good cholesterol) thus, putting you more at risk of heart diseases, stroke and diabetes. These are the ones you need to stay away from. Trans fats most commonly are found in:

  • Vanaspati (dalda)
  • Margarine
  • Deep fried fast foods (donuts, French fries, hard taco shells, fried chicken)
  • Baked foods (cookies, crackers, pastries, pizza dough, breads)
  • Anything with “partially hydrogenated” listed in the ingredients.

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Healthy fats are an important part of the diet, since fat serves a number of functions in the body. However, it is important to replace the unhealthy versions with their healthy counterparts and moderate your consumption of fats with the right diet.

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