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What Are The Different Types Of Fats?

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Two types of fat

The important thing to know about fat is that it’s not all the same. In general there are two different types of fat in your food: saturated fat, which is the worst kind, and unsaturated fat.

No food is ever exclusively one type of fat. They are always made up of a combination of both in different proportions.

For example, olive oil, which is often recommended as a healthier option, has a saturated fat level of about 14%. It’s 81% unsaturated fat with some other things making up the rest. Its low level of saturated fat makes it a healthier option than, say, coconut oil, which has saturated fat of over 86%. Unfortunately, it still has a lot of calories, which can lead to weight gain.

Saturated fat and cholesterol

Saturated fat stimulates your liver to produce cholesterol, which gets into your blood, and can lead to coronary heart disease. It usually comes from animal products like meat or dairy but can also be found in coconut and palm oils.

Lowering your intake of saturated fat helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your body but it’s not just a case of swapping one type of fat for another. Although saturated fat is the worst for your health, eating too much of any fatty food will lead to weight gain which can eventually cause problems like diabetes.

If your body produces too much of what’s called low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, as the fatty molecules circulate through your body they can stick together and begin to build up on arterial walls.

This build-up of soft, fatty cholesterol in the arteries is called atheroma. Over time the atheroma begins to harden and form a plaque, which constricts the artery and restricts blood flow. This is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease.

Reducing fat in your diet

What is the best way to balance fat intake?

Try to shift the focus of their diet away from high fat foods, and especially those foods with high levels of saturated fat. Start using skimmed milk and cut right back on dairy products like cream and cheese. Eating leaner cuts of meat, and avoiding high fat foods like bacon, sausages, and duck can reduce fat intake. Cut back on the amount of oil you use in your food and switch to using olive oil or rapeseed oil. Changing from butter to sunflower margarine also helps.

If you’re serious about reducing the amount of fat in your diet, you don’t have to give up all the things you love and eat lettuce for the rest of your life! You just need to eat a sensible balanced diet and make sure you don’t splurge on foods packed with unsaturated fat.

10707 August 2012

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