Unsaturated fats are considered healthier than any other kind of fat, such as trans fats or saturated fats. They are often referred to as ‘good fats’ because they play a very important role in the upkeep of overall good health, and they are believed to help prevent many diseases such as cancer, obesity, atherosclerosis, etc. Unsaturated fats are fatty acids in which there is more than one double bond in the fatty acid chain. Fat molecules with one double bond are called monounsaturated fats, while the ones with more than one are called polyunsaturated fats.
What is really interesting is that both unsaturated and saturated fats consist of the same building elements, hydrogen and carbon atoms. The reason why we consider unsaturated fats healthy is the way their molecules behave when they reach the bloodstream. Unsaturated fats do not bond with each other once they mix with blood since their molecules are larger as opposed to saturated fats whose molecules bond with each other upon contact, resulting in clogged arteries and preventing the open and natural flow of blood. The good fats tend to slide along with the bloodstream, preventing any dangerous build up.
As the name ‘mono’suggests, these fats have one double bond in the structure which is made up of hydrogen and carbon atoms. The primary sources of these healthy fats are plant oils, such as canola oil and olive oil, that contain the healthiest amount and type of lipids. Other good sources are nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), avocados, and pumpkin seeds. These fats have a higher melting point than polyunsaturated fats.
These fat molecules have more than one double bond in their structural framework. Soybean, sunflower seeds, and fish oil are the best sources of polyunsaturated fats. Due to their lower melting point, they remain in liquid form even when chilled. These fatty acids cannot be produced in our body, but are very useful in helping us maintain good health levels. Therefore, we should incorporate these necessary foods into our diet.
It is not surprising that people who religiously follow the famous Mediterranean diet, which is rich in foods that contain unsaturated fats, have lower risks of cardiovascular diseases. However, you should know that even good fats can turn into bad fats if not properly used. For instance, flax seed oil or olive oil should not be used in frying, because this process damages them, eliminating all their good elements. Oils, seeds, and nuts should never be used when they start tasting bitter and rank.
Avoiding fats is not a good idea. If you are concerned about your weight, try using good fats rather than avoiding fats completely. Good cholesterol levels are vital for your brain and heart function, therefore, you do need to add a sizeable amount of lipid fuel also to your bloodstream.