Understanding the Frenemy Called Fat, and How It Can Keep Your Heart Healthy

Healthy Heart|Sep.28, 2017


It's one of Mother Nature's crueler jokes: fatty foods taste fantastic.

General wisdom dictates that anything fatless is healthy, but we are painfully aware that the fatlessness also impacts deliciousness in most cases. But it's also common knowledge that we should stay away from fats so we can ward off all of its ill-consequences, including heart disease. Right?

Common as the thought may be, the answer to the question would be "not quite". There is a growing body of evidence that says not all fats are bad for the heart.

There is little doubt that the animal fat, such as ghee, when consumed, can lead to a build-up of deposits in our heart vessels that increase the risk of other cardiovascular problems. They also increase Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or 'bad' cholesterol, which puts you at a higher risk of developing a heart condition.

However, fats found in plants, nuts, and fish contribute High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), which is the healthy or 'good' cholesterol and can go a long way in lowering the risk of heart problems.

So, don't dismiss all fats as bad for your heart. Making smart choices can not only help you to avoid the ill-effects of fat consumption but also keep your heart healthy. Here are a few fat facts and tips, which can easily be incorporated into your diet for a healthy heart:

Nutty is Healthy

Nuts are not just good sources of energy but are also an easy option to eat your way to a healthy heart. Regular consumption of a handful of nuts (serving of around 1.5 ounces or 42 grams), especially almonds, walnuts, pistachios and peanuts, help reduce total blood cholesterol. An increase in blood cholesterol blocks the arteries, slows down blood flow to the heart and makes you more susceptible to cardiac episode or condition. So, go on, have them as a mid-day snack or as an add on to your salad or a bowl of cornflakes. Make sure that you opt for the unsalted or dry roasted nuts, though; you don't want to undo all the good it does with the processed version of the nuts.

Say Yes to Reduced-Fat Dairy

Fat in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt is saturated, known to increase 'bad' cholesterol and putting you at a higher risk for a heart disease. Adopting reduced-fat dairy products is an easy way to reduce consumption of saturated fat in the diet.

You can also add other healthy alternatives to dairy, like soy milk and nut milk, in your diet to bring down intake of saturated fat.

Nothing Fishy About It

Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), which are known to fight inflammation, control blood clotting, and bring down blood pressure. Fatty fishes, like Surmai, Rawas and Indian Mackerel, are a rich source of omega-3 and regular consumption will help you keep heart problems at bay. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 include soy, walnuts, and vegetable oils.

You may also explore fish oil supplements, under your doctor's guidance, to add omega-3 in your daily diet.

Say No to Butter And Ghee

This one might be the trickiest of all, given how much we love a dollop of desi ghee in our food and bun maska with our chai but this road will only lead to more heartache, quite literally. Butter and ghee contain a significant amount of saturated fatty acids. Consumption of saturated fats increases LDL or bad cholesterol. Replace ghee with olive oil or vegetable oils, like sunflower and corn oil, to bring down the cholesterol levels and to protect your heart.

Get Smart, Read And Buy

Read up. Question your doctor about the various kinds of fats and cholesterol. What kind are good and which are bad? Become more conscientious with your food purchases. Most processed food contains trans fat - another item rich in bad cholesterol and poor in helping you keep your heart healthy. Be smart, make it a point to go through the nutrition labels on food items to avoid consuming products with trans fat content.

A healthy heart is a function of healthy choices. You don't have to forgo all the delicious food; just as long as you make smart decisions on how you cook and what you eat. This, coupled with a good dose of doctor wisdom, frequent workouts, and regular sleep, will make sure your heart is fighting fit.


Disclaimer: This publication/editorial/article does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.