Sharing moments Menopause Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Signs of a premature birth Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Baby’s development: Months 3 and 4 Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Weight Baby growth spurts Toys Sun protection for baby skin Teething Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6 Pelvic floor exercises after birth Babyschlaf Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Women's hearts Decisions Decision-making tips Report from the hospital Donating a kidney Life decisions Emigrating to South America Geocaching Sexuality Erectile dysfunction Young people and sexuality Queer pastor Drag queen Paprika Sexually transmitted infections What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Gender medicine HPV Families of transgender people Medically assisted suicide Types of dementia Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Vegan meat substitutes Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums A dentist explains Brushing up on brushing Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Constant availability: chronic stress Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Winter walks Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates The best abdominal exercises in five minutes Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Five-minute stretching routine Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Licht Yogastile Ayurveda-Morgenroutine Tips for doing sport outside in winter Cross-country skiing for beginners Home remedies against dandruff Home remedies Home remedies for bladder infections Home remedies for a sore throat Home remedies for migraines Home remedies against excessive sweating Home remedies for a sun allergy Healthy feet, healthy back core exercises for mountain bikers Symptoms Check Sport after Corona HIIT: quick and efficient exercises Sore muscles: debunking myths Debunking swimming myths strength training for young people Exercise videos Whole-body workout Fascia training Lack of exercise Sun protection Strong mind How to be mentally strong Mental strength Psychosomatics Resilience Tips against feeling down Sleep hygiene and mental well-being Depression Panic attacks Prescription drug addiction ADHD: Symptoms in children and adults Mental illness: help for friends and family Living with autism Pressure to perform Alcoholism Blood: myths and facts Hormones Complementary medicine: the most common treatments Complementary medicine Training in line with your menstrual cycle Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Digital responsibility and solidarity Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Three questions that keep us awake at night Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Finding sound health-related information online Impfstoffe entwickeln Tipps für Jugendliche in der Corona-Krise Becoming parents Diagnose: Kind im Haus Long Covid Take it easy in your free time YouTuber Aditotoro on the coronavirus pandemic Minimalism for a happy life Thanks to corona: more time for family Back to life after a paragliding accident Decluttering: the answer to chaos Living and loving with autism Synaesthesia Talking to doctors Non-verbal communication Is there really a serial killer gene? Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Moment Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics A vision of the future: How we will live in 30 years Onward Overcoming erectile dysfunction Family medicine practices of the future Personalised medicine A voice for Clara Sanitas newsletter
Dossier: Healthy eating

Which fats are healthy?

Fat was long thought to be unhealthy, making you fat and sick. It had a very bad reputation. Today we know better. A distinction is made between trans fats, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Which fats are healthy and which should we avoid?

Text: Julie Freudiger, photo: Shutterstock

Healthy or unhealthy fats?

There’s no getting around the fact that our bodies need fat. We need this essential nutrient to absorb the vitamins A, D, E and K, for example. The Swiss Society for Nutrition (SGE) recommends that we get around 20 to 35% of our daily energy intake in the form of fat. But not all fats are the same. Our diet should include a mix of saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids – ideally at a ratio of one-third each. Anyone alternating different oils in hot and cold meals is sure to get a balanced mix of healthy fats. Trans fats are the only ones to watch out for because they have a negative impact on our health.

Trans fats, saturated or unsaturated fatty acids?

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids help the body utilise the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These fatty acids are light and easily digestible.
    Found in: avocados, olive oil, rapeseed oil, peanuts, almonds, pistachios
    Recommended amount: 10 to 15% of our daily energy intake
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids are mainly divided into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are essential for life and must therefore be eaten in sufficient quantities. Omega-6 is important for growth, wound healing and defence against infection. However, it is also dangerous to eat too much of these seemingly health fats, because the substances produced from omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation. It is crucial that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are consumed in a balanced ratio of 1:4 (a typical meal today corresponds to a ratio of 1:10 to 1:20). It’s easy to implement this balance in your everyday life if you take a closer look at the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in food. For example, it’s 1:8 in virgin olive oil compared to 1:120 in sunflower oil.
    Omega-3 is found in: fatty fish such as salmon, microalgae, rapeseed oil, linseed oil, walnuts, leafy vegetables Omega-6 is found in: sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, meat, butter, milk and dairy products
    Recommended amount of omega-3: approx. 0.5 to 2% of our daily energy intake Omega 6: 2.5 to 9% of our daily energy intake
  • The body can produce saturated fatty acids itself and doesn’t need any extra from external sources. They are primarily found in animal-based foods.
    Found in: butter, milk, cheese, meat and charcuterie products, palm oil and coconut oil
    Recommended amount: max. 10% of our daily energy intake
  • Trans fats are modified unsaturated fatty acids. They are mainly produced by the industrial hardening of fats and by strong heating (e.g. deep-frying), but also occur naturally in the first stomach of ruminants. Trans fats of animal origin are found in the fat of meat and dairy products. Industrial trans fats have a negative impact on our blood lipids and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. They do not have to be officially labelled on food in Switzerland and the EU. The presence of industrial trans fats is indicated by the statements “vegetable fat, partially hardened” and “unsaturated fatty acids, contains hydrogenated fats”.
    Found in: fried food, chips, muesli bars, baked goods, ready meals (industrial trans fats); meat, milk and dairy products (natural trans fats)
    Recommended amount: As little as possible (maximum 1% of daily energy intake)

Animal or vegetable?

Healthy fats come largely from plant-based sources. If you want to do something good for yourself, it’s best to choose unprocessed foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olives. Since animal fats mainly contain saturated fatty acids, these should be eaten in moderation.

Fats or carbohydrates?

To get a balanced diet, the body needs all three essential nutrients: healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein. A large-scale international study (“Pure”, 2017, Download) indicates that fat provides twice as much energy as the other nutrients, but is said to have more positive health effects than carbohydrates. Researchers found that the mortality risk increases by 28% if the total energy requirement is supplied by at least 68% carbohydrates. By contrast, if a person absorbs 35% of their total energy requirement through fat, their mortality risk is reduced by 23% compared to a person with a low fat intake. Surprisingly, the positive effect is not influenced by the type of fat consumed. Nutritionist Paolo Colombani also sticks up for healthy fats and says that it is carbohydrates that lead to the increase in cholesterol.

Butter or margarine?

For a long time, margarine was considered a healthy alternative to unhealthy butter, because the vegetable fats in margarine seemed healthier than the animal fats in butter. This was followed by an about-turn, with margarine being considered unhealthy because it contained a high proportion of trans fatty acids due to the partial hardening of vegetable oils. In the meantime, food technology has made such great progress that margarine is now highly recommended.

Cold-pressed or refined?

Cold-pressed oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and has a natural, rather strong aroma. When an oil is hot-pressed, it needs to be cleaned of undesirable substances (refining). This process destroys vitamins and the unsaturated fatty acids contained in natural oil. It also has a more neutral taste. The difference between the two oil products lies mainly in their use: Cold-pressed oil loses its nutrients at high temperatures, and harmful trans fats can also be produced. It is therefore better for cold or luke warm meals. Refined oil, on the other hand, is heat-resistant and therefore ideal for cooking and frying.