Talking about dietary fats can become overwhelming. What’s trans fat? What’s the difference between saturated and unsaturated? What on earth is an omega-3? And what does all of this mean for your health? If you find yourself wondering about the answers to these questions, this article is for you!
You may think that eating fat is detrimental to your health, but it’s necessary for the body to function optimally. Whether or not it’s beneficial depends on the type, and amount, you’re consuming. So what makes one kind different than another?
In order to understand the differences, let’s explore what all fats have in common. You may remember the periodic table from your middle school science courses. This table lays out all the different elements that can be bound together to form molecules. For instance, you’re probably familiar with the chemical structure of water (H₂O), which is made up of 2 hydrogens (H₂) bound with 1 oxygen (O). Like water, fats are made up of 2 elements that bind together: carbon and hydrogen. The number of carbon and hydrogen atoms, and the manner in which they bind to one another, varies between types and leads to different impacts on health, as outlined in the table below.
As you can see, unsaturated fats are the most beneficial for health. Challenge yourself to incorporate more into your regular diet! They’re good for your heart health and essential for cellular functions. Try to identify ways you can replace saturated fats for unsaturated ones. For example, you might use olive oil in place of butter when cooking. Perhaps you opt for nuts instead of chips. Or maybe you reach for almond milk instead of whole milk. Not only will this improve your overall nutritional status, but it will contribute to a healthier heart and circulatory system.
Publishing, Harvard Health. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-Between.” Harvard Health, 2019, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.