What fats should we eat?
We need to consume fat to live, even if we can produce some of it ourselves from other nutrients, some fats are essential, but what are the fatty acids we should favor?
What are the most common fatty acids? You may have heard about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and the negative effects of saturated and trans fats. I'm giving you some information to help you find your way around.
Fats perform vital functions in our body, they are a source of energy and are also used to make cell membranes. Fats also participate in the production of hormones, in the transport and absorption of certain vitamins (A, D, E, E, K), in thermoregulation (they provide body insulation), in immunity (they protect cells)...
Fatty acids are the basic units of lipids (fats). They are classified into three families: saturated, unsaturated and trans.
Saturated fatty acids: to be consumed in moderation
They come from animals (butter, cheese, animal fat) or plants (coconut oil, palm oil). They are solid at room temperature, can turn rancid and can tolerate the temperature of the cooking process well.
Unsaturated fatty acids: "good" fats
We separate them into 2 categories:
Monounsaturated fatty acids:
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
They include omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid) and omega 6 (linoleic acid).
These 2 fatty acids are called "essential" because they cannot be synthesized by the body, i.e. they must be obtained through food.
These fatty acids are of crucial importance for the proper functioning of our cells.
- rapeseed oil
- hemp oil
- nut oil and nuts
- chia seeds
- linseed oil
- fish (especially fish from cold seas)
- lamb's lettuce, purslane, cabbage and lettuce
- sunflower oil
- grape seed oil
- corn oil
The 2 kinds of fats are in competition in the body, because they use the same enzymes and vitamins, an excess of omega 6 consumption limits the use of omega 3.
The ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in the diet should be 4 to 5/1, but generally in Western countries, the ratio is on average 10 to 15/1.
Trans fatty acids: to be banned
They result from an industrial process (hydrogenation) that modifies the structure of unsaturated fatty acids. They are found in manufactured products such as biscuits and ready meals.
They are solid at room temperature, can withstand high cooking temperatures, stabilize and better preserve food. They are highly appreciated by manufacturers.
However, they are more harmful to health than other types of fat.
To recognize them, simply read the composition label of your product and look for the words "hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "partially hydrogenated".