NUTRITION CORNER: Saturated and trans fats increase the risk of heart diseases

Fat is more often associated with heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, breast cancer, obesity and others. But not all fats are the same as there are healthy and unhealthy fats. In fact, our body needs some fat so it can function well. It is a great source of energy. It is used by our body to produce substances that it needs for its proper functioning. Our body can absorb some vitamins from the foods that we eat with the help of fats.

Health authorities say that there are fats that are better for our health than others. These are monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. These fats help prevent heart disease.

Foods that contain high monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocado, and most nuts. Foods with high polyunsaturated fats include safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil.

Health journals say that Omega-3 fatty acids are an example of healthy fat that help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained also from plants such as ground flaxseed, flaxseed oitl, and walnuts. Small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from soybeans and canola oils.

On the other hand, there are fats that can do more harm to our health than good. Examples are saturated and trans fats. These fats increase the risk of heart disease because they contribute to the building up of fatty substance in the arteries where blood carrying oxygen passes on its way to the heart. When fatty subtance accumulates in the arteries, the passage of blood is hindered or blocked and as a result, the heart does not get all the blood it needs to function properly. The result can be chest pain or heart attack.

Studies also revealed that fats can also increase the risk of stroke by causing the accumulation of fatty substance in the arteries that carry blood to the brain.

Research also revealed that consuming lots of trans fats may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Foods that contain high saturated fats include red meat (beef, pork, lamb), poultry, butter, whole milk and whole milk products, coconut oil and palm oil.

Trans fats can be found in foods made with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil. They can be found in com-mercial baked goods such as crackers, cookies and cakes and in fried foods such as doughnuts and French fries and stick or hard margarine.

Health authorities said that even though monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are better for the health than saturated and trans fats, it is not healthwise to consume large amounts of any fat as it can result in weight gain. They recommend instead that we eat more nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.#