Understanding Dietary Fats and Balancing Them in Your Diet

In this blog post, i shall talk to you about the different type of cholesterols in the body, then describe to you how the different types of fats that contribute to the cholesterols. Finally i shall discuss with you some tips on eating and shopping habits that will help you to have a right balance of fats and cholesterol in your body.

Type of Cholesterols in the body

Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL)

Also known as bad cholesterol. LDL builds up in your blood vessels and increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL)

Also known as good cholesterol. It assists to return cholesterol from the blood vessels back to the liver for breakdown therefore lowering your risk of heart disease.

 

Types of Dietary Fats and how they contribute to LDL or HDL in our body

  1. Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are present mainly in animal products such as red meat or poultry and full cream dairy products. Some plant products such as coconut milk and palm oil also contain high amount of saturated oils. Saturated fats can increase total LDL cholesterol level in the body. We need to limit our total saturated fat intake to not more than 20g per day.

  1. Trans Fat

The main diet sources which contain trans fats are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and shortening. Food such as deep fried foods (French fries, curry puffs, deep fried chicken wings), processed foods such as sausages and chicken nuggets sold in supermarkets, instant drink mixtures found in supermarkets (such as 3-in 1 coffee or tea) contain transfats. These fats are very harmful to our body and not only increase LDL cholesterol but also decrease HDL cholesterol level in our body. We need to avoid trans fat fat from entering our blood stream as they are the most harmful of all fats.

  1. Polyunsatured Fats (PUFA)

These fats can be found in plant sources such as sunflower, sesame and soybean oil, and some seeds and nuts such as flax seeds, cashew and walnuts. PUFA helps to lower LDL cholesterol.

  1. Monounsaturated Fats

Nuts such peanuts and almond, healthier oils such as olive and avocado oil and avocados are high in monounsaturated fats. MUFA just like PUFA helps to reduce our LDL cholesterol.

 

Tips of how to reduce total fats in our body and saturated fats

It is important to ensure that we limit the amount of saturated fats in our body as this increases the risk of heart disease and also contributes to obesity which can be a risk factor for many other diseases as well. We should substitute foods with high percentage of saturated fats with foods which have higher percentage of MUFA and PUFA as much as possible. However excess consumption of PUFA and MUFA leads to increase of total fat content in our body which should be avoided.

Here are some tips on how can follow a diet to limit the total fats as well as the amount of saturated and trans fats abosorbed into our body.

  1. Use oils which have more percentage of unsaturated fats compared to saturated fats. (E.g avocado oil, sunflower and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and palm oil)
  2. When buying dairy products, choose low fat options, like low fat milk, reduced fat cheese, eggless and flourless cakes.
  3. Avoid deep fried food and processed meats such as chicken nuggets and sausages as much as possible as these often contain harmful trans fats.
  4. Use healthy cooking methods such as grilling or steaming when preparing food instead of frying them. Order grilled fish or chicken rather than fried fish or fried chicken when you are out eating.
  5. Remove the skin of meat when you consume them as a high percentage of the saturated fat is contained in the skin.
  6. When you go shopping in the supermarket, look for the “Healthier choice” symbol.
  7. Prepare healthy home cooked food instead of eating frequently in food courts as these places often use palm oil for cooking their dishes

These tips may seem hard to follow initially but with discipline nothing is difficult. I have started following these tips myself since the past 1 year. The last time i ate a curry puff or a deep fried chicken wing was almost one year ago. Before that i used to buy back Old Chang Kee snacks 3 to 4 times a week. I hardly take processed food items and prefer to go for natural foods. I also use avocado oil at home for cooking and although it costs $30 for 1 litre oil, it really helped reduce the LDL cholesterol level in my blood. I also use 1/3rd of the oil in cooking dishes as i used to in the past. Sometimes i miss deep fried food so i bought a Phillips air fryer and trust me the food cooked using the fryer is almost as good as food fried with oil on a frying pan. We also eat at home most of the time instead of eating outside. As a result of this diet, my body weight has also significantly reduced. I was 65kg last year in October and now i am only 51kg, so all the ladies keen to lose weight i hope this will motivate you to follow the healthy diet tips mentioned above.