Fat makes you fat and is bad for your health – a nutritional myth that persists. Healthy fats are among the essential basic nutrients that our organism needs to function. In addition, they can increase customer success. But which fats are healthy, which foods contain them and how exactly do they help you lose weight?
Good fats are so important for the organism
Fats (lipids) generally have a bad reputation – wrongly so. They are one of essential nutrients. Our organism needs healthy fats, but cannot produce them itself. Therefore, they must be ingested through food. About 30 percent of the daily energy requirement should be covered by fats. There are good reasons for this:
- Fatty acids are important suppliers of energy.
- They form an insulating layer under the skin that keeps us warm.
- The body needs fats to be able to utilize the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Fats regulate the hormonal balance, especially the testosterone level in the blood.
Which fats are healthy?
Fats are divided into saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. The difference between them becomes clear when you take a look at the molecular level: Fatty acids are made up of singly or doubly bonded carbon atoms linked together in long chains. A (poly)unsaturated fatty acid is present when it has one or more double bonds. Single carbon bonds, on the other hand, characterize saturated fatty acids. But which fatty acids are healthy and which are bad for the body?
Good fats: Unsaturated fats lower cholesterol
Unsaturated fatty acids are considered healthy. They lower the bad LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol. The body also needs them to process fat-soluble vitamins. A distinction is made between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The body can produce the former itself, so they are not essential. The situation is different with polyunsaturated fats. These must be ingested through food.
Unsaturated fatty acids include omega 6 (linoleic acid) and omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid). From the two fatty acids, the body forms a large number of hormones and messenger substances, including eicosanoids – these are substances that have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.
However, when it comes to Omega 6, one should not follow the principle “a lot helps a lot”. Because in large quantities it is inflammatory. Omega 3, on the other hand, has an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, it has a positive effect on vision, the brain and nervous system, blood vessels, and muscles. According to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), omega 3 and omega 6 should be taken in a ratio of 5:1.
Saturated fat is bad for your heart and makes you fat
Saturated fats are unhealthy fats because they increase cholesterol levels and damage blood vessels. In addition, saturated fatty acids increase the risk of obesity, which promotes cardiovascular diseases. However, the harmful effect only sets in with regular or excessive consumption. Saturated fatty acids are mainly found in animal products such as butter, meat, and cheese, but also baked goods and coconut oil.
Healthy fats – list of the top 5 foods
There are more healthy fats in plant foods than in animal products – an exception is an oily fish, such as pollock and mackerel. However, almost every food that is high in healthy fats also contains saturated fat. It all comes down to the right ratio: food should contain twice as much good fat as bad fat.
The proportion of healthy fats in the following foods is so high that the unsaturated fatty acids are hardly significant.
- Vegetable oils: No food contains as many healthy fats as vegetable oil: 100 grams of linseed oil contain 86 grams of unsaturated fatty acids, walnut oil, and sesame oil each have 84 grams. Olive oil (78/100g) and rapeseed oil (69/100g) also supply lots of good fats.
- Nuts: Nuts cannot quite keep up with vegetable oils. Nevertheless, their content of unsaturated fatty acids is extremely high, especially hazelnuts (54/100g), walnuts (53/100g), and almonds (46/100g).
- Flaxseed: Even if they seem inconspicuous, one should not underestimate the health effects of flaxseed. About half of their nutrients consist of unsaturated fats. When it comes to omega-3 content, flaxseed is the absolute leader among plant foods.
- Oily fish: The content of omega-3 fatty acids is particularly high in salmon, herring, and mackerel. Proteins are also abundant in it. And unlike tuna, these types of fish have very low levels of mercury.
- Avocados: They are among the fruits with the highest fat content (13g/100g), the majority of which are unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, avocados provide a lot of vitamins, minerals, and secondary plant substances.