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Types of Fats: How To Select Healthy Oils And Fats.

Types of Fats: You probably know that not all fats are bad for you. In fact, some fats are essential for good health. Research scientist Vasanti Malik from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health explains that “ Fat is not something to be feared, but rather a necessary component of your diet. Fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs, supports cell growth and more.”

That's why we are discussing all about fats in this blog article, and help you choose healthier fats. 

Overview of Fats

Fats being an important part of our diet, supply calories and help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins. The type of fat is just as important for health as the total amount of fat consumed. That's why it's important to choose good fats. Let's look at the types of Fats.

There are three types of fats: Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats.

  • Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products, such as meat and dairy products. 

  • Unsaturated fats can be further classified as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and usually comes from plant sources such as olives, nuts, or seeds. 

  • Most trans fats in our diets come from industrial processed food.

Fatty acids that are saturated with hydrogen molecules are called "saturated fats". Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. Studies have indicated that a diet high in saturated fat can increase an individual's risk of developing heart disease,  and other health problems because it raises the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol builds up on artery walls it could lead to atherosclerosis which can be the cause of heart disease.

Unsaturated fats are a type of fat found in plant-based sources that have not reached their maximum capacity for hydrogen in fatty acid molecules, making them "unsaturated" consisting of monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fats that are beneficial to health when consumed as part of a balanced diet. 

Monounsaturated fats can help lower unhealthy LDLcholesterol levels while also raising good HDL cholesterol levels. Meanwhile, polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6are essential components needed by the human body which cannot be produced on its own. These vital nutrients support heart and brain health and help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that is chemically altered in a hydrogenation process. This process gives them increased stability and a longer shelf life. However, consuming trans fats may increase risk for heart disease, insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes), and other health issues. This is because they can increase the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and decrease ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream which can lead to an accumulation of lipid substances on artery walls and can cause coronary disorders. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Fats in cooking oil

Cooking oils come in different types, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Oils that are high in saturated fat, such as butter, and coconut oil are typically solid at room temperature. They can still be consumed as part of a balanced diet but in moderation. To limit their impact on health, use them sparingly, choose unrefined oils, and store them properly. Also, consider replacing some of the high-fat ingredient such as butter in a recipe with unprocessed oils to reduce the overall fat content of the dish

Oils that are high in unsaturated fat, such as groundnut oil, mustard oil and sesame oil, are typically liquid at room temperature. They are good for your heart and may help protect against some diseases when consumed in moderation.

The composition of coconut is different because it is composed of 65% medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), 19% long-chain fatty acids, and 8% mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. What sets coconut apart from other saturated fats is that it contains lauric acid, which has beneficial effects on the body.

Choosing the Right Fats for Your Diet

It’s important to eat a variety of foods that include different types of fat so that you get all the essential nutrition your body needs.

Choosing the right fats for your diet can be a challenge. You have to make sure you are consuming a mix of essential nutrients. The best way to do this is to include sources of both saturated and unsaturated fats in your diet.

When selecting oils, it’s best to reach for those with a higher ratio of polyunsaturated fats to monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been found to have the greatest health benefits. Also make sure to look for oils that have labels indicating they are free of trans fat or "hydrogenation" on the ingredient list

How to Identify Unhealthy Fats in other food products?

It is good to know which fats are healthy and which ones aren't, but how do you tell which ones are in the food you buy? Well, it's not that difficult,  just take a good look at the nutrition label.

Here are some simple tips to identify unhealthy fats in foods:

  • Check the nutrition label for high levels of total, saturated, and trans fats.

  • Read the ingredient list and avoid foods with "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated."

  • Choose foods high in unsaturated fats, like cold pressed groundnut oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.

  • Limit processed foods, such as chips, cookies, and cold drinks.

Tips on Cutting Down on Unhealthy Fat

You can reduce the amount of unhealthy fats from your diet by following a few simple tips. First, try to stay away from processed and packaged foods as much as possible and opt for home cooked meals made with fresh ingredients instead. This will limit the number of trans fats hidden in processed foods and canned drinks.

Second, select food with lower amounts of saturated fat, such as lean meats and dairy products. And lastly, when choosing your cooking oils, opt for plant-based oils like groundnut or sesame oil that are rich in MUFA and PUFA.

These simple steps will help you to reduce your intake of unhealthy fats while still getting all the essential nutrients that you need.

Now Let's Talk About Fats In Cold Pressed Oil

When it comes to cooking with oil, what matters is the type of fat in the oil. All fats have the same number of calories, 9 calories per gram so if you want to make healthier choices when it comes to cooking, your best bet is to choose cold-pressed oils.

Cold pressed oils are extracted from their source in a way that preserves their natural nutrients, which are often lost when the oil is heated during refining processes. 

In fact, some studies have found that cold-pressed oils can even help reduce bad cholesterol levels in our bodies, and can be beneficial for those at risk of heart disease. Also, cold-pressed oils help us absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K much more easily. So if you're looking for healthier options when it comes to cooking with oil and fats, cold-pressed oils are definitely worth trying out!

It's all about making informed decisions about which types of fats to include in your diet. By swapping out unhealthy fats for healthier unsaturated varieties, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Happy Cooking! Stay informed and live healthy. 

Read: Groundnut Oil is Good for Health?

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