Food And Health: Fats That Kill

Fats are essential parts of our diet and they are important for good health. Their absence in our diet can put us at risk of certain deficiencies because they do not only give taste to food, but are also used as a medium of transport for other nutrients.

It serves as an alternate source of fuel when carbohydrate stores deplete and help maintain average body temperature. Though some fats are healthy and others are not, eating a lot of healthy fats can also contribute to weight gain and other health complications. We usually know most fats that kill and forget those that heal. Knowing the difference will help you make better food choices.

What is the difference?

“Healing” fats

Healing fats are unsaturated fats. They are termed unsaturated because of their chemical structure. Unsaturated fats are usually found in fish and plant foods. The unsaturated fats are grouped into two: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated are usually found in vegetable oils, avocado and nuts whilst polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, herring and sardines as well as omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils like soybean oil and sunflower oil.

“Killing” fats

These include saturated and trans fatty acids (trans fats). Saturated fats are usually found in high fat meat whilst trans fats are found in foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which include margarine, fried foods, baked foods and other processed foods. “Killing” fats increase your risk of having cardiovascular diseases like Hypertension. Foods to avoid or eat in smaller amounts include: poultry skin, high fat dairy products, French fries and other deep fried foods.

How can you know?

Read food labels. Food labels provide all the nutrition information about a particular food especially packaged foods. They will help you decide what to buy. They will even inform you of the expiry date or best before date for your own safety.

What can you do?

  •  Make a conscious effort to eat healthy; choose the healing fats.
  •  Exercise regularly to get rid of excess fat.


Authors: Eugene Baffoe and Tata Rota Ntobo

Editor: Richard Stephen Ansong

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