Fats are essential to life. Nevertheless, they have a bad reputation. Whether a fat is healthy or harmful depends on its origin.
Nutritional fats include triglycerides and cholesterol. Although cholesterol is not actually fat, but a water-insoluble substance called a steroid, it is classified as fat. While cholesterol is always of animal origin, triglycerides can be of plant or animal origin.
Vegetable fats are triglycerides which, with the exception of coconut fat, consist mainly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids; that is, healthy fats that the body needs as cell building blocks, as carriers of fat-soluble vitamins or as a way to build up hormones.
Animal fats are divided into triglycerides and cholesterol. In contrast to the vegetable triglycerides, the saturated fatty acids predominate in the animal triglycerides, which are stored in the fat cells as fat deposits in case of emergency. Meat, sausages and dairy products contain the highest level of saturated fatty acids. In poultry, the proportion of saturated fatty acids compared to healthy, unsaturated fatty acids is already lower than in red meat. In fish, unsaturated fatty acids predominate, especially polyunsaturated fatty acids. Therefore, for the sake of your health, you should often replace meat with fish.
Triglycerides always consist of a glycerol component and all three fatty acids. The higher the proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, the healthier and more valuable the fat is for our body.
Tips for choosing the right fats
Saturated fats, such as those found in meat and dairy products, are fat makers. Take the following advice to heart to put you on the safe side!
- With meat, choose lean variations such as poultry, beef filet, lamb or game. Avoid sausage and pork.
- Cut all visible fat off meat before preparation.
- Remove all fat from ham.
- Avoid all dishes that are prepared in oil, such as French fries, breaded fried pork or doughnuts. French fries can also be prepared in the oven, and breaded pork in a pan.
- Use olive oil or rapeseed oil for frying and do not use hardened fats or butter.
- Make fish more often than meat.
- Leave the poultry skin on when serving.
- Prefer low-fat variations of dairy products.