A fat lot of good
Know your fats...
- Saturated fats - Found in fatty meat and dairy products. They raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, increasing your risk of heart disease, so cut back on these.
- Polyunsaturated fats - Found in plants and seafood. Good sources include sunflower, safflower and corn oil. Can help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol, but also lower good HDL cholesterol levels - which is why it's better to opt for monounsaturated fats such as olive oil.
- Monounsaturated fats - Found in plants and seafood (eg olive oil, oily fish and walnuts. They help to lower bad LDL cholesterol and so protect you from heart disease.
- Cholesterol - There are two types. LDL is the bad cholesterol and HDL is good cholesterol.
- Omega-3s - Linolenic acid is found in oily fish, linseed and pumpkin seeds, soya, walnuts and walnut oil, and green vegetables. Most of us don't get enough omega-3s in our diet. Omega-6s Linoleic acid is found in sunflower, safflower and corn oil, margarines, sunflower and sesame seeds. Most of us get enough omega-6s in our diet.
- Trans fatty acids - Avoid them by cutting out foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
- Hydrogenated fats/oils - A chemical process that turns cheap liquid oils such as palm oil, as well as sunflower and rapeseed oil, into solids used in biscuits, cakes, pastries and margarines. It's now accepted that the hydrogenation process produces trans fats that are even more harmful than saturated fat.
Even though all oils contain roughly the same calories, evidence suggests that different types have different effects on the body.