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Good and Bad Fats

What are fats?

Fats nutrients found in butter, ghee, vegetable oil, milk and milk products etc. Each gram of fat provides 9kcal, which makes it highly energy dense and therefore essential in fulfilling the energy needs.

Why are fats important for us?

Fats play a vital function in the body and are important for all. Fats are highly important for the body as they play vital functions in the body. Fat is stored in our body special cells known as the Adipose tissues. Fats provide insulation to various organs and nerves against shock and are essential for regulation of body temperature and for healthy cell function. Fats are also required for the formation, development and maintenance of tissue structure in the body. Fats provide essential fatty acids like DHA that are essential for the brain and retinal development of babies and are essential in the absorption of various fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K.

What are different types of dietary fat?

The type of fat has a marked effect upon the quality of diet and health. Fats are consumed in two forms:

Visible Fats: These fats are in the form of cooking oils, butter, ghee, margarine etc which is added while cooking or preparing food.

Invisible Fats: These are fats that are inherently present in the food, like fats in grains, nuts, milk etc.

Types of fatty Acid

Fatty acids in foods are classified as saturated or unsaturated fatty acids, depending upon the composition. Food fats are generally a mixture of both types of fatty acids.

Saturated Fatty Acids: Saturated fats are mostly solid at room temperature and are found in foods from the animal sources like meat, poultry, milk, butter, cream, cheese etc. and also from some plant sources like coconut and palm oil.

Unsaturated Fatty Acids: Unsaturated fatty acids are divided further into mono-unsaturated fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Foods which contain MUFA are avocado, olives, olive oil, peanut oils, eggs etc. Sources of PUFA are corn, soyabean, sunflower oil, walnuts etc

Trans Fatty Acids: TFAs are found naturally in small amounts in various animal products like beef, pork, lamb and the butterfat in butter and milk. TFA in the diet comes from deep fried fast foods, bakery products and packages snack foods. Trans fatty acids are also formed when there is repeated heating of otherwise healthy oils is done in processs like frying etc. Fats like margarine and vanaspati are made by hydrogenation of vegetable oils. They contain Trans fatty acids (TFAs), which also raise blood cholesterol. Excessive consumption of TFA’s leads to various health problems like heart heath etc.

How much of fat should you eat?

It is advisable to use all fats and oils lightly and preferably in the recommended combination.

Pregnancy and lactation: An intake of 30 g of visible fat is suggested. This level of fat is needed to increase the energy density of the diet.

Infants: For the first 6 months, the fat requirements of the baby are fulfilled by the mother’s milk.

Children: For children, 1-3 years of age, they need 27 grams per day to fulfill the fat requirements of their growing body.

Use Fats to Your Benefit

Making simple modifications in your diet, as explained below are going to help you use the fats wisely:

Reduce Consumption of High Fat Meat: Remove the fat and skin from fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat before cooking so as to reduce the amount of saturated fat in them. Cut down on high fat processed meats and limit organ meats like liver.

Replace Frying by Other Modes of Cooking: Avoid frying as much as possible in order to keep the fat absorbed by food to the minimum. Use broiling, baking, roasting, steaming or poaching as modes of cooking rather than frying as frying adds extra fat to the food.

Use Vegetable Oils instead of Butter: Use vegetable oils high in monounsaturated fats like canola and olive oil instead of butter for cooking. Avoid oils and creams as salad dressings. However, you can use condiments and spices like mustard, basil, ginger, garlic & cinnamon to enhance flavor.

Avoid Other Fatty Products: Use skimmed or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt. Limit the use of margarines, if at all use liquid or soft tub margarines.

Read Product Labels Before Buying: Carefully read labels on food products and avoid buying foods that are marked as hydrogenated or high in trans fats.

Choose Good Fats for Good Health: Incorporate sources of good fats in your baby’s daily diet and minimize the use of bad fat sources in her food. This not only enhances her overall growth and development but also prevent her from many potential diseases.

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