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Healthy & unhealthy fats?


Not all fat is the same. And fat is not automatically unhealthy, quite the opposite. We need fats to stay healthy and vital. However, we should pay attention to which fats and how much of them we consume. What the difference between the different types of fat is and why some fats are wrongly portrayed as “bad”, you will learn here. We’ll also show you which foods contain good fats and which are better left alone.

The difference between good and bad fats

Along with proteins and carbohydrates, fats are a basic nutrient and essential for our health. However, there are chemical differences between the various types of fat, which also trigger different effects in the body. Both the healthy ones and the often misnamed “unhealthy” ones can trigger both health-promoting and health-damaging processes. The following applies: The dose makes the poison.

Fats can be divided into two broad categories:saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. What exactly distinguishes the two and from which you should consume more, we explain to you.

Saturated fatty acids

Saturated fatty acids: They are generally regarded as the “bad” fats – wrongly so. Like unsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids also perform important tasks in the body. They are building blocks for our cells, provide us with energy and are needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. We can only speak of a health hazard if we consume too many saturated fatty acids. Excessive consumption can raise cholesterol levels and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fatty acids should make up about 10% of our daily calorie requirement. They are found primarily in animal products such as eggs, meat and sausage products, and dairy products.

Unsaturated fatty acids

Unsaturated fatty acids have a good reputation. They are considered “good” fats and are presented as healthier, especially compared to saturated fatty acids. They can be divided into two subcategories: Monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Especially the latter are said to have good effects on health. Just like saturated fatty acids, we need unsaturated fatty acids for our bodies to function and remain healthy. However, they do not have a negative effect on cholesterol levels, so we can and should consume more of them. A ratio of 1:2 is recommended.

Unsaturated fats are found in vegetable products, such as flax or safflower oil, nuts but also in fatty fish such as salmon. It is important to take in enough polyunsaturated fatty acids, as our body cannot produce them itself. During preparation, care should be taken not to heat the oils too much, as they turn into unhealthy trans fats above about 130°.

Omega-3 fatty acids

When it comes to healthy fats, there is no getting around omega-3 fatty acids. They belong to the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids and have a number of health-promoting effects. They are building blocks of our cells and of messenger substances, strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. Since omega-3 fatty acids belong to the (poly)unsaturated fatty acids, they are found in similar foods: fatty fish such as mackerel or herring, flaxseed, nuts or hemp. Due to their positive effect on health, omega-3 fatty acids are now offered in capsules. However, these should not be swallowed without prior consultation with medical professionals, as too much of a good thing is not always good. Omega-3 fatty acids can affect blood clotting and, if taken in too high doses, can lead to undesirable effects such as inhibited blood clotting.

In contrast to the omega-3 fatty acids, one should consume less of the omega-6 fatty acids. A ratio of 1:5 is recommended.

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