Good fats and their role in our diet
Clinical Dietitian / Nutritionist
Fat is one of the main constituents of macronutrients. One gram of fat yields 9kcal, making it the most energy-intensive ingredient in the diet. Carbohydrates and proteins from 4 calories per gram.
Unsaturated fatty acids
Good fats are called unsaturated fats and are divided into 2 groups, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats, which are considered “good fats” ( always in the context of a balanced diet) can increase “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Thereby lowering serum triglycerides, chances are occurrence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. They also improve brain function and blood clotting.
Polyunsaturated fats are also “good fats” and they are very important in our diet. This because our human body can not synthesize them on its own, but receives them exclusively through the foods we consume. For this reason they are often referred to as “necessary”. They contribute to the development of children and the proper functioning of the brain.
The main ones are:
- omega-3 fatty acids
- omega-6 fatty acids
- omega-9 fatty acids
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in extremely high concentrations in the following food categories:
- In all vegetable oils (olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, etc.)
- Vegetable non-dairy drinks with omega-3 and omega-6 fats but also rich in calcium, vitamins B2, B12 and D2. You can find different flavors, such as soy, almond and hazelnut drink
- n nuts (pecan nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, peanuts, chia seeds, cashews, etc.)
- In seeds (sunflower seed, sesame, flaxseed, pumpkin seed etc.)
- In fatty fish and fish oils (mackerel, salmon, tuna, trout, etc.)
- In the olives
- In avocado
Ways of cooking
The way a food is cooked and processed before cooking also plays an important role in the quantity and quality of fats. Look for the healthiest ways of cooking such as cooking in a pot, oven, grill and cooking, as opposed to frying which creates saturated (bad) fats. For example, if we add olive oil to a hot pan, its composition immediately changes and from “good” fat it turns into “bad” fat. So it is very important to add the olive oil during the cooking of the food so that you do not become the process of frying.
The need for balance!
As all kinds of fatty acids are essential for the health of the body, what is necessary is to keep the right proportion of fats. According to the World Health Organization, dietary fat intake should range from 25-35% of total energy intake.
Clinical Dietitian / Nutritionist University of Hertfordshire
Despina Palama was born in Limassol in June 1993. In 2011 she was admitted to the Department of Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Hertfordshire, England, from which she graduated in 2015. From her early academic years she participated in several seminars and conferences on nutrition, while at the same time he took part in voluntary nutrition days.
It is an active member of the Association of Dietitians and Nutritionists of Cyprus since December 2016. It maintains its office for the last 5 years in Limassol.