TYPES OF FATS IN FOOD

Food education is essential in the creation of good eating habits. Alejandra Bastarós, a graduate in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Zaragoza and food specialist at the Cook & Chef Institute, looks into healthy eating for us

Photograph of TYPES OF FATS IN FOOD

 

Fats are a variety of nutrient present in our food.

Chemically, the most common type of fat is one in which three fatty acids are joined to a glycerine molecule, known as triglycerides or 'triacylgycerides'.

Triglycerides which are solid at room temperature are known as fats, while those that are liquid are called oils. 

 

We need to have fats in our food, but not all fats are the same.

The primary functions of fats are:

Energetic – The body uses the fats as an energy source when doing physical exercise, particularly aerobic activities.

 

They help us absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).

 

They add in the essential fatty acids the body cannot produce on its own.

 

They are hormone precursors.

 

They protect us from the cold.

 

Types of fats present in foods:

UNSATURATED

 These are essential for the body to operate efficiently:

Polyunsaturated – which are Omega 3 and Omega 6. 

Omega 3 – Prevents the arteries hardening, reducing the risk of a coronary event and lowering blood pressure.

They help to lower blood triglyceride levels.

Omega 6 – Reduces LDL ('bad') cholesterol.

Can be found in olive oil, blue fish and dried fruits & nuts.

Mono-unsaturated – Reduces LDL cholesterol. Found particularly in olive oil.

 

SATURATED

These are chiefly found in foods of animal origin, but are also present in palm and coconut oils.

They are unhealthy as they increase LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and they are bad for the heart.

They are in processed meats, cheeses and full milk products, butter and vegetable oils, such as palm and coconut oils.

 

TRANS 

These are liquid oils which have been industrially changed into solids. On food labels, they are noted as 'partially hydrogenated oil'.

They increase LDL ('bad') cholesterol and reduce HDL ('good') cholesterol.

They are primarily found in pastries, biscuits, pre-cooked or fried products, etc.

 

 

Alejandra Bastarós

BSc. Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Zaragoza

http://dietista-zaragoza.es