For many people, fats have a very negative connotation and are considered unhealthy, which is why they are often avoided when trying to eat healthy. But not all fats are the same. The term “fat” covers different types of fat, some of which are essential for life. In general, fat is one of the three vital macronutrients in the diet, along with proteins and carbohydrates.
How healthy are fats?
So, fat is one of the most important macronutrients, but it is not produced by the body itself. This means that people rely on ingesting fats through food.
Fats have many important functions. On the one hand, they serve the body as an important energy supplier and are a building block of our body cell, as each cell is protected by a fat coat. Organs such as the kidneys, liver and brain are also protected by fats. In addition, fats are essential for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins E, D, A and K. Without fat as a carrier, they would be excreted again without benefit.
Fat is therefore an extremely important substance for the human organism.
What types of fat are there?
But despite the many important functions of fat: not all fats are the same. Fats are utilized differently by the body according to their different structures. The main distinction is between unsaturated and saturated fatty acids.
Saturated fatty acids:
Saturated fatty acids are mainly found in animal foods, such as cheese and butter. These fats can be produced independently by the body and therefore do not need to be supplied separately. Saturated fatty acids can increase the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is considered “bad” cholesterol because it is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, saturated fat should be eaten only in moderation and should not exceed 10% of the daily ration of fat.
Unsaturated fatty acids:
Unsaturated fatty acids cannot be produced by the body itself, which is why it is vital to supply them. They have various tasks and functions for the body:
- Hormone formation
- Lowering of the cholesterol level
- Increasing the function of the brain
- Inhibition of inflammatory processes
- Counteract depression
- Lowering the risk of heart diseases
Unsaturated fatty acids are therefore generally healthy fats. These include, above all, the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid and the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. Both are important and must be taken in through the diet. However, the ratio between the two fats should be correct. An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 5:1 is recommended.
In fact, too much omega-6 can have negative effects on the body, as the fatty acids promote the production of pro-inflammatory tissue hormones.
Omega-3 fats promote the production of anti-inflammatory tissue hormones. In general, omega-3 has many other positive effects on the body. For one, it helps improve vision. Furthermore, it has a positive effect on the brain and nervous system and promotes, among other things, the ability to concentrate. It protects the heart muscle and has a positive effect on blood vessels. It also promotes muscle regeneration and muscle growth.
Which foods contain healthy fats?
First of all, it is important to know that the required amount of fats depends on personal needs. This is calculated from the physical load and the ideal weight. For adults, this is usually between 60 and 80g of fat per day. Unsaturated fatty acids should make up at least one third of this amount.
Good fats can be obtained from various sources. Vegetable fats offer many healthy fatty acids and are contained, for example, in avocados, hemp oil, olives and rapeseed oil. Olive oil is also one of them and has a health-promoting effect when consumed.
Some animal fats can also be healthy. These include tuna, salmon and eggs, for example.
The last major source of healthy fats are nuts, for example peanuts, walnuts and almonds.