Increase your dietary fats IQ

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fat-ladyThere is conventional wisdom that all fats are bad for your body and therefore, eating “fat free” food is good option to remain healthy.  If you are among those who think the same way, I would recommend you to learn more.  The truth is that fat is an essential nutrient for the body that helps in nutrient absorption, nerve transmission energy production and, growth and development of the body.  However, some fats are bad fats or unhealthy fats and some are good fats or healthy fats. When bad fats are consumed in surplus amount, they contribute to weight gain, heart diseases and much more. On the other hand, good fats promote health positively.  The key is to replace your bad fat diet with good fats diet to protect your heart, joints, pancreas, mood stability, and skin.

 

Here are some quick lessons on fat and its use in the body:

 

What are the major types of fats?

There are majorly two categories of fat – unsaturated and saturated. The main difference is – unsaturated fat is good for the body and saturated fat is bad for the body.

 

unsaturated-fatGood fats: Good fats are known as unsaturated fats, which are mainly of two types- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  When consumed in moderate amount, unsaturated fat helps in reducing the total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in your blood, thereby lowers your risk of heart disease.  Polyunsaturated fats include essential fatty acids of omega-3, which fight against coronary heart disease and also protect against irregular heartbeats and help to lower blood pressure levels.

 

Now the question that comes to your mind is what types of food contain these good types of fat.  Find below the best food sources of these healthy fats according to Mayoclinic:

 

Type of healthy fat

Food source

Monounsaturated fat

Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds

Polyunsaturated fat

Vegetable oils (such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils), nuts and seeds

Omega-3 fatty acids

Fish oil, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, all green leafy vegetables, flax oil and walnuts

 

Harmful fats:  Harmful fats are majorly of two types- saturated and trans fats.

 

saturated fatSaturated fat is usually bad but trans fat is practically poison. Both saturated fat and trans fat raise total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level and can increase your risk of heart disease, but trans fat also lowers high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) level in the body. The double action of trans fat puts you at higher risk of heart disease. Studies reveal that – even 2% increase in your daily intake of trans fat can increase your risk of heart disease by 23%.

Below are common food sources of harmful fats according to MayoClinic:

 

Type of harmful fat



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Saturated fat

Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter), and coconut, palm and other tropical oils

Trans fat

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (such as doughnuts and french fries), shortening and margarine

 

How much fat do you really need?

After knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don’t, you are onto the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease.  To stay healthy it is needed to know how much fat is actually recommended on daily basis.  The American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee strongly advises these fat guidelines over age 2:

 

Types of fats

Recommendation

Total fat

25–35% of your total calories

Saturated fat

less than 7% of total daily calories

Trans fat

less than 1 percent of total daily calories

Dietary cholesterol

Less than 300 mg / day

 

For example, a sedentary female who is 31–50 years old needs about 2,000 calories each day. Therefore, she should consume less than 16 g saturated fat, less than 2 g trans fat and between 50 and 70 grams of total fat each day (with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils).

 

zerotransfatFood labels can be misleading

I also want to address that if you go to a grocery store and find food products that say “Zero trans fat”, be careful it can be a misleading statement.  According to Alyse Levine, a registered dietitian in Los Angeles, “Zero trans fat” is one of the most deceptive statements, you will find on food labels.  Basically, foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving still get the “zero” OK from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2 grams of trans fat a day, so you could reach the maximum intake with just four servings of such foods.

 

The right knowledge is the key to stay healthy.  Hope the information about use of fat will help you to keep healthy and live longer.

 

Healthy eating!

One Response

  1. Tom P. says:

    Really good information. Keep up the good work.

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