Fats are an essential part of diet and an important source of energy. The body stores all the extra calories in the form of fats to act as an energy reserve for future use.

Excess fat intake can lead to obesity, cardiovascular complications and diabetes associated complications. Therefore, a low fat diet should be the cornerstone of any diet plan.

There are two types of fats:

Visible fat- that are visible in the form of oil, ghee, cream and butter.

Invisible fat- That hidden fats are an integral component of most of the food items. Some foods like milk, meat, fish are rich in invisible fats.

Are all types of fats harmful?

Fats are made up of fatty acids and glycerol. The glycerol component is common for all fats whereas the fatty acids can be of two types:

Saturated fatty acids (SFA)

Present in butter and ghee.

Unsaturated fatty acids

These can be Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids -MUFA (mustard oil, groundnut oil, olive oil) and Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids –PUFA (present in soyabean oil, corn oil, sunflower and safflower oil).

The type of fat determines the effect on the plasma cholesterol levels. SFA’s increase the level of cholesterol (increase is more with respect to LDL than HDL) and hence enhance the risk of cardiovascular disease. MUFA lowers the total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) without lowering the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). PUFA lowers the total cholesterol, both LDL, which is the bad cholesterol, and HDL, which is the good one.

Therefore an ideal pattern for fat intake should be

Total fat 30% or less of total calories

SFA <10%
PUFA <10%
MUFA Remaining
Cholesterol <300mg

It is advisable to use a combination of different types of oils for day to day cooking.The total intake of oils should be restricted to 750ml/month (3-4 teaspoons a day).