Everyday we are bombarded with information telling us how beneficial or bad fats are to our bodies and which ones we should look out for, and those we need to avoid. Next time you at the supermarket, have a look on the tub of margarine, or bottle of oil and you will see the a list of fats.
Generally, we should aim to eat a low-fat diet. And if you have to use fat, then use unsaturated fats. You should aim at getting a balance between them all. Polyunsaturated fats can contain omega-3, which is good. One kind of omega-3 is called essential fatty acids, which we do not produce ourselves and we therefore have to take it in from an external source. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to lower blood pressure, combat LDL (bad) cholesterol, fight inflammation and protect the brain and nervous system.
Then there are the so-called bad fats. The ones who are responsible for artery-clogging from meat and dairy products. These fats are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats have been shown to directly raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Conventional advice has been to avoid them as much as possible. This is the fat that raises the cholesterol level the most, especially the LDL (bad one). They are normally solid at room temperature. Typically found in animal fats and tropical oils. But maybe they are not all that bad, and they are certainly an important source of vitamins and minerals. There are those who would argue that coconut oil and palm fruit oil, which are plant-based sources of saturated fats, may actually be beneficial because their particular fatty-acid make-up means they are metabolized differently in the body.
They have less effect on cholesterol. You get mono and poly. This doesn’t mean you can drink down the olive oil. Unsaturated fats are typically from plant sources and tend to be liquid at room temperature. Mono-unsaturated fats may help increase HDL (the good cholesterol) and help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol . These unsaturated fats help fight the diseases that consuming excess fat was said to cause. Polyunsaturated fats are also thought to help lower total and bad cholesterol. But monounsaturated fats tend to be favored over polyunsaturated fats because some research suggests that polyunsaturated fats are less stable, and can reduce levels of good cholesterol as well as bad.
Polyunsaturated fats are often a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, found mostly in cold-water fish, nuts, oils and seeds, and also in dark leafy greens, flaxseed oils and some vegetable oils. Most cooking oils are made up primarily of unsaturated fats. When it comes to choosing cooking oils, each type of cooking oil varies in its ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats. Two oils stand out for their high levels of monounsaturated fats: canola oil and olive oil.