Fats in Diabetes

Nutrition in Diabetes

Fats in our food & Diabetes

Functions of fats 

Fats are an essential component of our food. Simply said, fats are like rocket fuel for our body- concentrated source of energy - the calories contained in 1 gm of fat is 9 Kcals as compared to 4 Kcals in 1 gm of protein or carbohydrates, 2 tbspns of cooking oil gives approx 240 kcals that is just enough energy required to almost boil 1/2 a cup of water !!!

After being broken down to their basic units ( fatty acids) they provide energy to the working muscles of heart, arms and legs to perform work. Fats are stored in special fat storage cells called adipocytes- they not only store fats but also secrete some hormones both good and bad for our body.These may regulate our appetite, weight, mood condition of our blood vessels including many things.

Fats are required for many other purposes

Fats form external linings or paddings around internals organs to provide lubrication and insulation.

Some essential vitamins can be transported only with help of fats in the blood.

Fats make the backbone of many hormones secreted in the body which is very important for proper functioning of the body

Fats are very important for healthy skin 

Visible & Invisible Fats 

Depending on their external apearence fats are divided into visible & Invisible Fats


  • Visible fats are the obvious and familiar, with oily smooth texture like in cooking oils, butter, clarified butter, vegetable shortening, cheese, cream, Lard etc.


  • Invisible fats  are not apparently identifiable from their texture or taste- these are cereals, pulses, nuts, seeds, milk, meat eggs, fish, vegetables- but they still contain fats.


Important for Diabetics

Excessive consumption of invisible fats in nuts, seeds, meat and poultry may lead to high cholesterol and Triglyceride levels which may be harmful for Diabetics 

Fats & our Body

Since blood is 95% Water, and fats are oily- as we all know water and oil do not mix, similarly fats also cannot be transported in blood as such, for this purpose they form complexes with proteins- which are called Lipoproteins, or Glycerol which are called Triglycerides and thus become soluble in blood and transported to all parts of the body.


Their are  2 main types of Lipoproteins High Density Lipoproteins ( HDL) & Low Density Lipoproteins ( LDL)

HDL is the so called 'Good or Cholesterol'- it has a protective effect on the blood vessels and prevents the formation of plaques or blockages in the arteries which may lead to Heart attacks, Stroke and other diseases of blood vessels. 

LDL is the so called 'Bad Cholesterol' it is harmful for the body if in excess-it promotes the formation of atherosclerotic plaques and blockages leading to heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease etc.


High levels of triglycerides also help in formation of plaques and as well as pancreatitis which may further complicate Diabetes.


 Important for Diabetics

In most Diabetics HDL may be decreased and LDL & Triglycerides increased, it is important to consume foods which raise HDL and decrease LDL in order to prevent various complications of Diabetes 

Fats in our food

Fats are present in most of the foods we consume regularly, they are the most popular medium of cooking. Fats are available in different forms which vary in the quantity, texture and quality. Some are beneficial while others harmful for our general health and that of Diabetics in particular.



Transfats re manmade fats- they are manufactured by passing hydrogen gas through vegetable oils, which gives them a grainy texture-like that of clarified butter. These are very harmful as they decrease HDL and raise LDL, which greatly increases the chances of heart attcks, stroke, kidney disease and other serious complications, and should be completly avoided. Unfortunately they are very popular in the coomercial food industry because they are cheap and foods prepared in them have longer shelf life. They are used in bakeries as vegetable shortening for making cakes, pastries, cookies etc. Examples: Vanaspati ghee, shortening for bakery, margarine.


Saturated fats

These are mainly animal fats,  like butter, cheese, cream, clarified butter, lard, meatalso in Coconut oil Hydrogenated vegetable oils- they raise LDL and total cholesterol if consumed in large quantities and should be consumed so much as recommended.


Tips for Diabetics

 All fats (oils) which become solid at room temperature are 30-38 deg are harmful for the body

Unsaturated fats

These are perhaps consumed in maximum quantities, as they make up most of the cooking oils like Sunflower, Safflower, Cornoil,

These can be further divided in two categories- Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated

Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats makeup most of the cooking oils like Sunflower, Safflower, Corn oil, Cotton seed oil, Peanut oil, Linseed oil, If consumed liberally they may increase Total Cholesterol and LDL and thus pose a risk to Heart and Blood vessels supplying both heart and brain and legs.


 Omega-3 fatty acids

 There are two major subtypes of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (Omega-3) ?-3 and ?-6. ?-3 are beneficial for heart and blood vessels, they prevent are highly recommended for Diabetes and Heart patients

Sources of ?-3 PUFA: Wheat Bajra; Black gram, cowpea, Rajmah, Soya; Green leafy vegetables, Fenugreek & Mustard , Walnut, Flaxseeds; Mustard, soyabean & Canola oil. Fish is a very good source of ?-3 PUFA, specially oily fish like tuna, mackerel & salmon, single serving of fish 2-3 times a week is good for heart.


Monounsaturated fats

These are the most beneficial oils of all- they increase HDL- the protective cholesterola nd decrease LDL and total cholesterol, They are present in maximum quantities in Olive oil, Canola oil, Peanut oil, Rapeseed oil, sesame oil. 


Tips for Diabetics

 Fats and oils may decrease the Glycemic index of foods - bu they are harmful for the body. Fried foods always have lower glycemic index but they are more harmful.

Intake of Fats

Approx 25-30 % of all calories consumed daily should be from fats in which less than 10% should be from Polyunsaturated fats 10% or more from Monounsaturated Fats and less than 10% from saturated fats. Transfats ( Hydrogenated vegetable oil) should be avoided altogether as it is very harmful for the cardiovascular health and may lead to heart attacks and stroke.


 Fats Approx Caloriess in 1 portion 
 Cooking oil 1 tbspn 120 
 Butter 1 tbspn  100
 Margarine 1 tbspn  90
 Mayonnaise 1 tbspn  45
 Cheese 1 oz  115-75
 Cream Whipped 1 tbspn  50
 Clarified butter 1 tbspn

( Desi Ghee)