Fat is an essential macronutrient used by the body for functions like insulation,
protecting organs, as a store of energy and to supply fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
The types of fats include saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and trans fat.
Nutritionists recommend limiting saturated fat and trans fat in the diet.
Carbohydrate, fat, protein and alcohol are macronutrients. Macronutrients supply
the body with energy. Except for alcohol we need macronutrients in larger amounts than vitamins and minerals.
Saturated fat is called a ‘bad fat’ because of its impact on blood
cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are often solid at room temperature and are
mostly found in meat and dairy foods and in vegetable derivatives
likes palm and coconut oil.
The “good fats” are monounsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts such as peanuts,
almonds, cashews, macadamias and oils like olive and canola.
Polyunsaturated fats are also ‘good fats’. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are the two main types of polyunsaturated fats. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in sunflower oil, some margarines, some nuts like walnuts, some seeds such as sesame and sunflower and also in legumes.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna and in canola and soybean oil.
Trans fat is found naturally, in small amounts, in some animal foods, such as beef and dairy. The second source of trans fat is created when liquid vegetable oils go through a process called partial hydrogenation, which is used to improve the stability of oils. This process is used by food manufacturers to allow longer shelf-life and give food desirable taste, shape and texture. Commercially produced trans fat are found in margarine, biscuits, crackers, fried foods, pastries, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oils.