Saturated – mainly found in animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, coconut
Unsaturated – found in marine sources like fish oils, as well as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils
For years saturated fat was thought to be associated with higher risk of Cardiovascular Disease and so it was deemed as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘bad for you’. The problem with saturated fat was not the actual fat itself but rather the increased consumption of processed food or the large quantities of saturated fat products. Saturated fat helps increase the cholesterol production in the body which is an essential part of metabolism and in the production of steroid hormones. So saturated fat should feature in our diet, just maybe don’t latter every meal in butter.
Unsaturated fats are made up of mono and polyunsaturated fats. These contain our omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids open our airways and blood vessels. They reduce our blood lipids and cholesterol and lower inflammation and pain. Omega 6 fatty acids do the opposite. Both are needed in the body, without both we wouldn’t heal or recover from exercise. The problem with Western diets is that we don’t have the proper ratios. We are at about 10:1 where we should be at 2:1 (omega 6/omega 3).
Low fat diets were a fad a few years ago. While people reduced calories, they increased their intake of processed foods. Diets lacked fats and fat soluble vitamins so instead of being healthier people were losing weight but were not healthier.
Fats are an essential part of any healthy diet. Be aware that they are very calorie dense so be sure not to overconsume and don’t opt for processed versions. Enjoy them as part of a balanced lifestyle.