Fats are essential for human life and health. They have numerous functions in the body, from helping to make up cell membranes, to hormone production, vitamin absorption, energy storage and insulation. The health and integrity of our organs relies heavily on receiving enough of the right dietary fats. When it comes to bowel health, research has shown that polyunsaturated fats can have a positive affect on the gut microbiota. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties and therefore have been linked with gut related disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Fats are often categorised into those which are ‘good’ and those which are ‘bad’. Although, the two main types of fat are saturated fats and unsaturated fats and it is the balance of these fats which is so important to health status.
Know your fats…
Saturated fat Mainly found in animal based products, these are generally considered to be the ‘bad’ type of fats. Sources include: harder fats like lard, butter, fat on meats, fatty meat products and pastries, as well as in full-fat dairy foods and many takeaway meals.
Unsaturated fat: These are mainly plant based fats and are well known for their reported health benefits. There are two types of unsaturated fat: polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat.
Monounsaturated fats – can be found in olive and rapeseed oils, red meat, whole milk products, nuts and high-fat fruits such as avocados.
Polyunsaturated fats – can be found in plant oils such as sunflower, soya, sesame, corn, as well as fish. There are different categories of polyunsaturated fats, which include the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are considered the essential fatty acids (EFA’s).