Last Updated on 2022-09-28 , 1:52 pm
Some of us have actually even tried to cut out our fat intake entirely. But did you know that doing so could do more harm than good?
Like what everyone says, do everything in moderation, and that applies to fats as well. Here are 10 facts you need to know about fats so that you can make more informed decisions about eating!
If you prefer, you can watch this video on this topic instead:
Two Types of Fats
Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by fats. There are many things that have fats, and it’s not just us humans; animals, vegetables and many of our groceries have fats too.
Now, before we go into all of that, it’s important to note that there are two types of fats, namely Saturated and Unsaturated Fats.
Saturated fats are what we know as the “bad” kind of fat. It’s the fat that is found in food like beef and pork, as well as high-fat dairy foods like butter and cheese. It is also the type that is found in fast food, processed food, and baked goods like burgers, pizzas, desserts, and pastries.
Unsaturated fats are the opposite of saturated fats, and they are the healthier version that we can afford to eat more of.
Unsaturated fats are also divided into two categories: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, peanut butter, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, olive oil, and canola oil, while polyunsaturated fats are found in foods like soybean, walnuts, salmon, and tuna.
I’ll Be Healthy As Long As I Eat More Unsaturated Fats, Right?
If one eats a lot of saturated fats, more bad cholesterol will be produced, and this can be dangerous as plaque can be formed in the arteries and increase your chances of getting heart diseases and stroke.
Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, produce more good cholesterol. This good cholesterol will help to pick up the excess bad cholesterol in the blood and move it to the liver so that it can be broken down.
In order for you to reap the full benefits of unsaturated fats, you not only have to eat more of it, but you also have to cut down your intake of saturated fats. This is because the benefits of eating unsaturated fats can be negated if you continue to take in too many saturated fats.
So what you want is a high good cholesterol to bad cholesterol ratio, which means you need to have a high unsaturated fat to saturated fat ratio, understand?
Cutting Fat From Your Diet Doesn’t Equate To Losing Fat
There are nine calories in one gram of fat, so naturally, many people associate eating lots of fats with weight gain.
However, this is actually the same for every other nutrient. When we consume fat, we tend to be less hungry than when we don’t consume fat. This is because it takes much longer to digest fat than carbohydrates and protein.
A lot of people who tend to eat less fat will compensate for the feeling of hunger by eating more carbohydrates. And a lot of people usually eat more than two times the daily recommended intake of carbohydrates. So are they in a better, healthier place? Not necessarily.
In fact, according to a study done by the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care on more than 1,500 men, those who had a diet high in dairy fat had a lower risk of abdominal obesity as compared to those who had a diet low in dairy fat.
While you may think that cutting fat from your diet will help you lose weight, it actually does the opposite, and you’re much better off taking at least some fats.
Total Fats Should Make Up 25-30% of Our Total Energy Intake
So, how much fat should you have in a day?
Well, according to HealthHub, total fats should actually make up 25 to 30% of our total energy intake which is measured in calories.
Assuming that you have a daily intake of 2,000kcal, you should have about 55 to 65g of fats a day. And out of that 55 to 65g, you should only be taking in 23 grams of saturated fat.
Now, the total amount of fats may sound quite little, but if you don’t do your math right, you can easily exceed this number.
Let’s say you have two pieces of roti prata with egg for breakfast (28g), nasi lemak for lunch (32g), and chicken rice (15g) for dinner, that’s already 75g of fat consumed.
We’re not saying that you can’t enjoy your meals and that you have to calculate your calories down to the dot every time you’re deciding what to eat, but perhaps it’s good to be a bit more mindful so that your health will not become too affected.
Fats Help Us Grow
Did you know that fats help us to grow?
Fats are actually necessary for cell growth, especially in children. They are considered the primary source of energy if you would like your child to grow up healthily, specifically during early infancy.
Thanks to their structural components, fats provide fatty acids and cholesterol needed to form the cell membranes in all the organs. Our bodies are unable to synthesise essential fatty acids, so we need to have an intake of fats in order for cell growth to occur.
With the intake of fats, organs like the retina and central nervous system, which are composed primarily of fats, can be formed.
Fats As An Energy Source
You probably already know that our body’s primary source of energy is actually glucose, which is derived from carbohydrates being broken down. Glucose can be immediately used for energy, or sent to the liver and muscles to be stored as glycogen.
But did you know that glucose isn’t actually the one that provides us the most energy? In fact, fat provides us twice as much potential energy as carbohydrates or protein. This is because, as mentioned earlier, there are nine grams of calories in one gram of fat. In comparison, there are only about four calories in each gram of carbohydrate or protein.
However, in order for the body to use fat as an energy source for your exercise, your body has to have sufficient oxygen first.
If You Exercise, Fats Are A More Important Fuel Source
Carbohydrates are the body’s most efficient fuel source, especially when you are doing high-intensity exercises for a short period of time and you are unable to take in as much oxygen. The reason why it is such an efficient fuel source is that your body needs less oxygen to burn carbohydrates as compared to protein or fat.
However, if you’re someone who exercises for long periods of time, fat becomes the more important fuel source, and your body is likely to spare your reserve of glycogen and go straight into using fat as your fuel source.
How does this work?
When you exercise for a longer period of time, the intensity tends to decrease. This means that you are able to take in more oxygen and as a result, more oxygen is made available to the cells. This allows for fats to be used instead of glycogen. And since glycogen is used at a slower rate, you are less likely to feel tired so quickly, and it supports you to do the exercise for a longer period of time.
Fats As A Type of Brain Food
Did you know that eating more unsaturated fats might help you to have better cognitive functions?
The MIND Diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet, has proven itself to be helpful in lowering the risks of Alzheimer’s disease. The diet consists of eating more of 10 types of food like whole grains, fish, and nuts, and eating less of five types of food, like butter, cheese, and fried foods.
According to a 2015 study in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia journal based on more than 900 people aged between 58 and 98, it was found that those who followed the MIND diet had cognitive functions that were equivalent to that of someone more than seven years younger.
It seems that if you eat a lot of saturated fats, you can increase your chances of getting inflammation in the brain. However, if you eat unsaturated fats, it can help to decrease these chances.
So if you want to reduce the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s disease, you might want to try out the MIND Diet!
Subcutaneous Fats Are Harder To Lose
If you’re looking to lose weight, you might be quite disappointed to find out that subcutaneous fats, also known as the fats that are located just under the surface of your skin, are much more difficult to lose than other types of fat.
Not quite sure what I’m talking about? Just pinch the fat on your stomach, legs, and arms. Those are your subcutaneous fats. In case you didn’t know, they serve as protection for your bones and muscles. It also serves as an energy source for your body.
However, due to the functions of the subcutaneous fats, your body is not inclined to lose these fats first for fear that it will impact your health negatively. As such, the first type of fats you will lose is your excess visceral fat, which are inside your body instead (can’t be seen from the outside).
Only when those fats are gone will your body start burning the subcutaneous fats.
The Truth About Low-Fat Foods
Now, you may just think, oh well, I’ll just opt for low-fat food instead. Anything that is advertised as low-fat should be healthier, right?
No, while it may seem like processed low-fat food is healthier, they are usually packed with a lot of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, which can easily cause excessive hunger, weight gain, and illnesses.
Many may say that when you’re craving ice cream, go for low-fat frozen yogurt instead. After all, frozen yogurt contains way less fat than ice cream!
That may be true. However, the amount of sugar in frozen yogurt is the same as what’s inside ice cream, if not more. 100 grams of non-fat frozen yogurt actually contains 24 grams of sugar while 100 grams of ice cream only contains 21 grams.
And guess what? We tend to eat frozen yogurt in larger servings than ice cream, just because they are perceived to be healthier.
Instead of going for these types of processed food, go for foods that are naturally low in fat. You can also go for foods that are naturally high in healthy fat.
Featured Image: Lightspring / Shutterstock.com
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