Fat is an essential component of our diet. They play an important role in the functioning of our bodies and are essential for many biological functions. However, not all are equal, and some are considered healthier than others. The question that often arises is whether vegetable fats are better than animal fats.
In this article, we will take a look at the differences between the two types of fats, the pros and cons of each type, and how to include healthy fats in your diet.
Differences between animal and vegetable fats
Animal fats are mainly found in animal products, such as meat, butter, milk, cheese and eggs. They are often solid at room temperature and rich in saturated fatty acids.
On the other hand, vegetable fats are mainly found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and oilseeds. They are generally liquid at room temperature and rich in unsaturated fatty acids.
Benefits of vegetable fats
Vegetable fats are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids (found in avocados and nuts) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in vegetable oils and seeds).
These fats have many health benefits. In fact, it can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health. In addition, it is rich in vitamins and antioxidants that strengthen the immune system.
Compared to animal fats, vegetable fats are healthier because they contain fewer saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats are often considered less healthy than trans fats because they can increase bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood.
Harmful effects of vegetable fats
Although vegetable sources of fats and oils are often considered healthier than animal oils, they are not all created equal in terms of fatty acid composition.
In fact, some of them are so high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, overconsumption of which causes health problems.
These health conditions include chronic inflammatory diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease.(1).
As mentioned in this article on how much fat to consume, the correct ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 is 1:-4 respectively.
Sources of vegetable fats
Vegetable fats are found in a wide range of foods, including nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, vegetable oils, and margarine.
Harmful effects of animal fats
Due to the high amount of saturated fat, animal fats can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, it can also contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.
Benefits of animal fats
However, not all animal fats are created equal. For example, the fats in fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. Therefore, it is important to make informed choices about the sources of animal fats in our diet.
Sources of animal fats
Animal fats come from the meat of animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, chicken and fish. The most common animal fats are butter, pork fat (lard), beef, duck, and fish oil. Dairy products, processed meats, and eggs are other sources of animal fat.
Although some vegetable oils (flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnut oil, and omega-3 ALA-rich hemp oil) are considered healthier than animal oils, not all vegetable oils are created equal in terms of fatty acid composition. Excessive consumption of omega-6 can cause chronic inflammation and many diseases, so sunflower, sesame, corn or argan oil should be avoided.
The same applies to fats of animal origin. Some of them should be limited (saturated fats from meat), while others rich in omega-3 EPA and DHA should be preferred: fish, fish oil, krill oil.
In short, a balance between animal and plant fats is essential to a healthy diet, and it's important to choose the right sources to reap all the health benefits they can provide.
Are vegetable oils healthier than animal fats?