Fats are without a doubt essential for your body. The only thing that you should know to discern is between the “good” fat and the “bad” fat.
Just like amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, fats are made up of smaller sub-units known as fatty acids.
So, what are the fats that are present in your food?
There are mainly four kinds of fat in the food that you eat:
- Monounsaturated fats (MUFA)
- Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA)
- Saturated fats
- Trans fats (also known as hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated fats)
Most of the fats are a mixture of one or more of the above four fats.
What are the fats that you should or should not consume?
As a rule of thumb, the unsaturated fats are “good” and the saturated fats and trans fats are “bad”.
Good fats help in lowering your cholesterol, whereas bad fats increase your cholesterol level along with increasing the risk of diabetes and other health issues like cancer.
How much fat should you consume while pregnant?
During pregnancy, it is recommended to have 30 – 40 gms/day of fat, keeping the number of calories contributed by saturated fats in the diet to less than 10%.
What are the benefits of fats during pregnancy?
- Good fat helps you stay fit during pregnancy and lowers your cholesterol
- PUFA like omega-3s – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) are very essential for fetal development
- The baby’s brain development needs essential fatty acids (EFA’s) for the brain development and ideal body weight
- EFA’s (ALA and linoleic acid) also get stored as the mother’s fat reserve. This stored fat is utilized mainly during the third trimester and during breastfeeding the most.
- Breast milk quality is mainly determined by the fat content and 50-60% energy to the baby is provided by the fat content
- Fat helps in nutrient absorption, especially “fat-soluble” vitamins (A, D, E, K) and hormones
- Studies have shown that the fat consumed by the mother during pregnancy has a “protective effect” on the baby and even prevents cancer
In part-2 we will know more about the sources of the various types of fats and how to reduce “bad” fats from your diet during pregnancy.