By Karimah Bint Dawoud
Qualified Clinical Nutritionist NCFE and Muslim Chaplin.
When we think about fats, most people think all fats are bad. Health conscious people know that when we need to normalize our body size, we need to cut down on fatty food.
However that’s only half of the story. This first of two parts scholarly essays, we will discuss why some fats are bad for the health and what fats make some distinction between different types of fats
If Angelina Jolie had been informed about a diet high in essential fatty acid Omega 3 , she maybe have thought twice about cutting off both her boobs, if she really did, as a precaution against a breast cancer gene she is said to have.
Most of us don’t realize how important fats are but that means good fats. We think all fats are bad but that’s not true.
We tend to see oils as one homogenous liquid like water, forgetting that all things have a different molecular structure and it’s this structure that separates good fats from bad fats, saturated from unsaturated and good saturated from bad saturated… and trans-fats!
It’s a little bit complicated but if we can just get our head around the images we should be well insha’allah.
The importance of fats wasn’t discovered until the last quarter of the 20th century because the technology had not been invented till then. The nutritional pioneer Ralph T Holman was one of the pioneers in this.
Before we talk about good fats lets briefly discuss bad fats and why fats have got a bad press.
A lot of fats in the western diet are fatty acids but they are not essential fatty acids they are saturated fatty acids. They are linked some of our most serious health problems, bowel cancer, heart attacks and strokes, coronary heart problems, mental health problems, depression, diabetes and stored as body fat, obesity.
Even though of us who are health conscious we have to know that there are some unsaturated fats which are great for promoting wellbeing, however the ratio/ balance between these / fats oils is very important.
Saturated fats are the facts that give all fats a bad name, they are found in dairy products; full fat milk, butter, cheese, meat particular; pork and red meats, animal meat fat; lard, some tropical oils, ghee, coco nut oil, palm oil.
Within the un saturated fat group are Trans-fats, these are the worst like of fat you can imagine for the body because they are not natural and can be artificially created by processing. Things like margarine, pork lard and soy fat, which is presented as spread or contained in loads of shop bought cakes. Unlike vegetable fats which are more complimentary to human health, unsaturated trans fats are hydrogenated to process them into margarine, lard and soy fat or even soya mayonnaise, basically they are seriously processed plant based fats, its the processing that removes them from their natural state making them detrimental to human health
However all fats are not created equal. Animal saturated fats and not the same as plant based saturated fats like coconut oil, there are “good” saturated fats and “ bad” saturated fats.
Research by N. I. Lipoeto, et al. “Dietary Intake and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease among the Coconut-Consuming Minangkabua in West Sumutra, Indonesia,” Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 13(2004): 377-84, found that fats high in animal saturated fats(butter,beef, lamb,chicken, turkey, eggs, milk) are harmful to heart health but plant, based saturated fats like unrefined coconut oil are not.
Some saturated fats like peanut butter is not all bad because its saturated because other nutrients in peanut butter are good , it’s just that a diet containing animals fats leads to some fatal health problems..
I suggest to people that a little butter is better health wise than trans-fats like margarine. they both contain the same calories but the butter is actually purer because its less processed than the margarine.
As well as cutting down or cutting out saturated and trans fats, it’s good to have the right balance of EFA’s essential fatty acids.The conclusion is vegetable unprocessed fats are best, contained in almonds, walnuts, flax seed, avocado pears, olive and olive oil.After that animal fats like those found in fish, eggs and butter, diary eaten in moderation and finally anything overly processed like margarine or lard is best avoided. these are the ones that managed to sneak into many shop bought pastries.
Insha’allah in the next post, we will talk of good fats…to be contd