Healthy Cooking Class: Good and bad fats

Today’s workshop we looked at the different types of fats we consume and learnt which ones are best to use in our cooking, added to foods, and which ones to avoid. Below is some helpful information on fats in our diet.

Healthy Fats

Monounsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes. Monounsaturated fat is found in foods such as avocados, almonds, cashews, peanuts and cooking oils made from plants or seeds such as sunflower, canola, soybean, olive, sesame and peanut oils.

Polyunsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are types of polyunsaturated fat.  Nutritionists call omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids “essential” fats for good reason. The human body needs them for many functions, from building healthy cells to maintaining brain and nerve function. Our bodies can’t produce them. The only source is food. Polyunsaturated fat (omega-6) is found in foods such as fish, tahini (sesame seed spread), margarine, linseed (flaxseed), sunflower and safflower oil, pine nuts and brazil nuts.  Polyunsaturated fat (omega-3) is found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel as well as walnuts and linseeds.

Unhealthy fats

Saturated fat. This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Trans fat. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. By partially hydrogenating oils, they become easier to cook with and less likely to spoil than do naturally occurring oils. Research studies show that these partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

In today’s class, the student had a chance to make a Raw Carrot Cake packed full of good fats, and the final product was delicious!!!

good fats

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