Health  

Fats and oils part 6

Logo-NannaDietary recommendations for fats and oils
Depending on the type of fats and oils, they can either be implicated in the development of a disease or one that can prevent diseases that may be caused by another kind of fat. For instance, fats and oils have a very significant role to play concerning the health of the arteries, the heart and the brain. This is occasioned by their involvement in the formation of arteriosclerosis. As we already are aware, this is the deposition of plaques on the arteries that eventually lead to the blockage of the vessels. Blockage of the vessels results in coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.

The type of fats implicated in the formation of arteriosclerotic plaques is saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

As stated earlier, cholesterol is not appreciably water-soluble and to be transported in the blood stream, which is predominantly water-based, it has to be bound to lipoproteins. Two major kinds of lipoproteins that we are interested in are LDL and HDL. The LDL is known as low-density lipoproteins and when cholesterol is bound to it, we have what is known as LDL-Cholesterol. HDL bound to cholesterol is known as HDL-cholesterol. The LDL when bound to cholesterol is referred to as bad while the HDL with cholesterol is said to be good.

Cholesterol is never bad or good but this description has been given because of the direction of transport of cholesterol when it is bound to the lipoproteins. The LDL, which transports cholesterol from the liver to the cells increase the risk of plaque formation as cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessels. On the other hand, the HDL transports cholesterol from the cells to the liver where it is excreted in the bile. What this means, is that, if there is more HDL-cholesterol in circulation, the risk of arteriosclerosis and heart disease will be significantly reduced. When LDL-cholesterol becomes higher therefore, the risk of arteriosclerosis and heart attack increases.

In considering what kind of fats and oils one should be eating, the effect of the diet on HDL or LDL must never be overlooked. For example, trans fatty acids increase LDL-cholesterol and decrease HDL-cholesterol. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids represented by omega 3 and 6; increase HDL-cholesterol, while decreasing LDL-cholesterol.

We also need to remember that the consistency of the fats and oils differentiate between the animal fats and plant fats. Animal fats, mainly saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature, while the plant fats, more often referred to, as oils are liquid at room temperature. Trans fatty acid, which is solid at room temperature, is partially hydrogenated fat and has been described as the worst kind of fat for human consumption. Trans fatty acid increases LDL-cholesterol and decrease HDL-cholesterol. Examples of common trans fatty acids are margarine and shortening. These along with oils that are used for deep-frying of things such as potatoes and chicken should be avoided.

Saturated fatty acids tend to increase the level of cholesterol in the blood and for this reason nutritionists advice that these kind of fats, if not avoided completely should be eaten less frequently. To be sure, I have reproduced the sources of saturated fatty acids as a guide for us: Fatty portions of red meat, pork, chicken and turkey eaten with the skin, butter, dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream and fried and baked foods. Some prepared foods, for example, sausage, pizza and desserts are also high in saturated fatty acids. There are certain oils from plants like palm oil, kernel oil and coconut oil. These are saturated fatty acids but they do not contain cholesterol.

The best kind of fatty acids are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They both increase HDL-cholesterol and decrease LDL-cholesterol. There also reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis, CAD, heart attack and stroke. Examples of these are omega 3 and 6 and they can be found in such plants products as almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, cashew nuts, avocados and olives.

Polyunsaturated fats are predominant walnuts (roasted), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseed, and sunflower seed. They are also found in fresh water fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel and trout.

As I bring this article to a close, the recommendation is: Eat more of the unsaturated fatty acids – omega 3 and 6, less of the saturated fatty acids and none of the trans fatty acids.



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