Sources of fat for healthy recipes also require fats. Categorising all fats into one group i.e. “bad” is not necessary the best approach to healthy diet. Fats are important for human bodies in many aspects, specially in the formation of cell membranes. The human body also needs fats for the production of hormones and natural anti-inflammatories. Thus, we must know how to differentiate good from bad fats, and most importantly how to select the fats for heathy recipes.
Saturated fats – Healthy recipes enemy number one
Saturated fats are healthy recipes enemy number one. Most of them come from animal sources including meat and dairy products. Examples of food with saturated fat are:
- Beef fat
- Poultry with skin
- Lard and cream
Saturated fats increase the bad cholesterol (HDL) and lower the good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. You should limit their amount in your healthy recipes.
Polyunsaturated fats – “Healthy substitutes”
Polyunsaturated are better than saturated for healthy recipes. They are oils of vegetable such as canola, soybeans, corn, and sunflower. They do lower bad cholesterol (LDL), but at the same time lower good cholesterol (HDL). The other problem with vegetable oils is that they do not support oxidation and easily transform into “trans-fatty acids” (trans fats).
Almost all the trans fats in our foods come from food processing through hydrogenation of polyunsaturated fats. This consists in heating vegetable oils to high temperature in the presence of hydrogen. They stop the process before the oils become completely saturated, so they get a mixture of saturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are very bad for cardiovascular health.
The good thing is that it is very easy to identify foods that contains trans fats, starting with margarines and the more solid the margarine, the highest the trans fats level. High-fat baked foods such as doughnuts, cookies, and cakes are bad ideas for healthy recipes. In fact, any food for which the label shows “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” is a potential sources of trans fats.
Monounsaturated fats – the best
Monounsaturated fats are actually the best sources of fat for healthy recipes. Foods like cashews, almonds, avocados, and pistachios nuts contain large amounts of theses fats. Peanut oil and virgin olive oils are also good sources. The caution with these fats is not to heat them or to use only moderate heat.
Essential fats – Omega-3 and Omega-6
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential for healthy recipes because human body cannot make them. We need to get them from the diet. The role of the essential fats is to support the production of prostaglandin hormones which take care of inflammatory responses, cell growth, and some key functions of the immune system.
It is critical to consume Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in a balanced way because they do not have the same effects. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, that is, they help protect the body from infections. However, if you don’t have any inflammation, inflammatory response cause cause major health problems like asthma and heart disease. Specialist recommend an Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio of 2:1 for healthy recipes.
Foods that are very high in Omega-3 include: Mackerel, Salmon, Cod liver oil, Herring, Oyster, Sardine, Anchovies, Caviar, Flaxseeds, and Chia seeds. Omega-6s are mostly present in meat (beef, pork, poultry), butter, snacks made with Omega-6 rich fat as well as cookies, cakes, and pastries.
The most important Omega-3 are EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Decosahexaenoic acid). Both support key functions of the immune system and the body health in general. In addition, DHA assists in normal development of the body cells.
Combining fats, carbohydrates and proteins
Healthy recipes, also mains appropriate combinations of fats with good proteins and carbohydrate. It is very critical to have a good balance of these nutrients in the human body.