Get to Know the Effects of Different Fats on the Body and How to Have a Balanced Diet?

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Get to Know the Effects of Different Fats on the Body and How to Have a Balanced Diet?

Fat is usually considered bad for the health. But nowadays, it is proven that not all fats are harmful to health. Although trans fats and saturated fats are the causes of obesity, heart disease, clogged arteries and many other health problems, healthy fats like polyunsaturated fats play an important role in the well functioning of the body. It also helps to balance your mood, increase your energy, and help you control your weight. 

How to Differentiate between Good and Bad Fats?

Fat is an important nutrient, just like protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. According to the advice of doctors and nutrition experts, a healthy meal doesn’t have to be fat-free but should adhere to the principle of choosing to eat according to the following criteria:

  • Focus on consuming foods that contain good fats or unsaturated fats
  • Limit the amount of foods that are high in saturated fat
  • Avoid foods that contain trans fats

Trans Fats

Trans fats are also known as ‘bad fats’ and even if they are consumed in small amounts, they can increase your risk of various diseases as it is the type of fat that increases the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and also reduces the level of good cholesterol (HDL), causing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke including obesity and subsequent diabetes. We should limit our daily intake of trans fats to no more than 1% of total calories.

Most trans fats are produced in the food industry as from the introduction of vegetable fat or unsaturated fat that is in liquid state through a chemical reaction by adding some hydrogen until it coagulates into a solid mass so that it can be stored for a long time and does not smell rancid.

High Trans Fat Content Food

  • Margarine, white butter, creamer that is often used in fast food dishes such as fried food, baked goods, bakery and processed crispy snacks.
  • Occurs naturally in foods from animal fats and dairy products but in very small quantities so it is not as concerning as the partially hydrogenated trans fats in the first group.

With the rise in awareness of the dangers of trans fats, many countries around the world have passed laws prohibiting the production, import and sale of partially hydrogenated oil including Thailand, this law has been enforced since January 9, 2019.

However, some products may advertise that they are trans fat free. According to the law, if there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, it can be listed as 0 grams. 

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is not as dangerous as trans fats but it may have negative effects on health so it should be consumed in moderation. The recommended consumption amount is approximately no more than 7% of calories received per day where this type of fat can occur naturally in food. 

High Saturated Fat Content Food

  • Red meat such as pork, beef, lamb, leather, lard
  • Some vegetable fats such as coconut oil, palm oil, coconut milk, etc.
  • Fast Food such as butter, cheese, ice cream, cookies, bacon, sausage
The health effects of saturated fat intake are unclear. A study that analyzed research over the past 20 years found that saturated fat did not increase the risk of heart disease and some saturated fats may be better than others. For example, the saturated fat in milk may be better than red meat.
Nowadays, many products and foods follow the health trend by choosing something else instead of saturated fat. Before buying, make sure the replacement ingredients are good fats that help reduce the chances of heart disease or is it a carbohydrate diet that may increase your risk of heart disease?

Unsaturated Fat or Good Fat

Unsaturated fat is heart-healthy fat. Research has shown that good fats help reduce blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart attack, blood pressure and also helps reduce inflammation in the body that is one of the causes of many illnesses and chronic diseases including various cancers. 

High Unsaturated Fat Content Food

Unsaturated fats can be divided into two types: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

  • Monounsaturated fat is in liquid form at room temperature and clumps when refrigerated. It is found in a lot of vegetable oils like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil and in nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and avocados. 
  • Polyunsaturated fat is a liquid both at room temperature and when refrigerated and it can be found in sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseeds and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sea bass, catfish and snakehead fish. It is an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce by itself and is one of the types of unsaturated fat. It is recommended to consume the aforementioned fish foods 2-3 times a week to get enough omega-3s.

Does Each Type of Fat Contain the Same Calories?

Every gram of fat provides 9 calories, which is twice that of 1 gram of protein, which has only 4 calories. Eating too much fat can lead to weight gain. The recommended amount of fat per day is no more than 25-30% of total calories.

Fat is the building block of many cells in the body and is an essential part of a healthy diet. In addition, fat is beneficial for those who are losing weight as it helps to feel full and hungry more slowly, however, good fats such as nuts, fish and unsaturated fats such as oils should be consumed at the right amount. The portion of consumption can be arranged as per the following instructions.

  • Include the other types of food portions to complete the appropriate amount of calories that should be consumed each day.
  • Focus mainly on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Choose lean protein or lean meat. Avoid red meat. 
  • Reduce salty, sodium-containing foods including oily foods, fried foods, sweet foods, and sugary drinks.
Eating healthy is not difficult but it’s not easy to get started. Consult with a nutritionist/dietitian at PrimoCare about a healthy diet including how to eat to meet your lifestyle and health conditions. Make an advance appointment here.


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