Are fats actually bad for health?
Should we eat peanuts? Almonds? Are all fats and oils bad for our health? These questions often cross our mind. Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids. Some of these such as omega-6 promote cancer growth, some block it (like omega-3). Some increase the risk of heart disease and stroke while some reduce it. Some are linked with depression and skin problems while others ensure emotional and physical wellbeing. It is a unique blend of these fatty acids that influence our health.
The bad fats: Saturated fats in meat and dairy products including high-fat milk, cheese, butter, high-fat curd, and tropical oils up the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
The good fats: These oils are good for your health and contain MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids). They are found in olives, groundnuts and rapeseed (canola oil). Mustard, sesame seed (til) flaxseed (linseed), have a fairly good amount of MUFA. They protect our cardiovascular system and reduce insulin resistance which leads to type 2 diabetes and are also linked with cancer. Olive oil is the richest in MUFA and helps reduce the bad cholesterol.
Another type of fat is EFA or essential fatty acids. The name suggests that these are necessary for growth and development and they are essential because the body cannot manufacture them. There are two families of EFA namely omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 is found in vegetable oils made from corn, safflower, cottonseed, sunflower, etc. While omega3 is found in walnuts, soya beans, fish, leafy vegetables, canola oil and flaxseeds. Our body functions best when you take a balanced amount of omega-6 and omega-3. The Indian diet contains more of omega-6 than omega-3, which is linked to a range of degenerative diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc.