Healthy fat or not?
The inclusion of healthy fat is one of the least known parts of necessary nutrition. Many people would assume that all fats should be avoided wherever possible to maintain proper health, this could not be further from the truth.
Trans fats should be avoided if ever possible, due to an unhealthy elevation in cholesterol levels caused by their consumption, but this does not mean all fats should be treated the same. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been proven to help lower unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
What is a healthy fat?
Omega-3 fatty acids, a well-known nutrient found in oily fish, holds two types of fats that are crucial to maintaining optimum health. These two fatty acids are DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(Eicosapentaenoic acid) including a third fat, ALA(alpha-linolenic acid) found in nuts and seeds, are vital to bodily function. It may come as a surprise then to know that on average 95% of the world’s population is deficient in omega-3 fats. This gives rise to health problems such as, but not limited to, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even depression. Increasing the intake of these fats has not only the ability to improve and help prevent these problems but as well as improve cognitive and physical function overall.
Where do you find it?
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA can be found in oily, preferably wild, fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, and tuna. Whereas ALA can be found in walnuts, flaxseed, and soybean. Though these foods may have health benefits they are still all fairly high in calories, consuming in moderation is the best way to reap the benefits with the least amount of any backlash.
Omega-6 fatty acids, such as LA(Linolenic acid) and GLA(Gamma-linolenic acid) are another type of essential fat. Though this type of fat should be moderated more closely as it can raise triglyceride levels if taken at too high of an amount. Though when consumed at a ratio of 2:1 with omega-3 fats both have excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Sadly with the food industry focused more on quantity over quality the amount of omega-3 fats has gone down and omega-6 fats have gone up, leading to an unhealthy balance with deteriorating effects on bodily health.
Sources with a healthy amount of omega-6 fats include poultry, eggs, whole grain bread, flaxseed, and soybean. Most natural sources of omega-6 also contain the correct ratio of omega-3 fats to balance out any negative effects. However processed foods almost always contain more omega-6 than is healthy to consume, which is thought to cause health problems such as breast cancer, bipolar disorder, prostate cancer, and early development of arthritis.
Neither omega-3 fatty acids nor omega-6 fatty acids can be created by the human body, so both must come from the food we eat. This healthy fat is used to regulate blood pressure and to create key proteins as well as aid in the absorption of other vitamins and minerals. Consuming both types in their respective amounts can have great anti-inflammatory effects plus they can lower the risk of developing certain cancers and diabetes. The number of positive effects of both fats is still being studied but what is known is both are needed to help maintain and even rebuild damage throughout the body, so neither should be neglected in any healthy dietary plan.