FATS – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE TRUTH

We all know that too much of certain fats (saturated in particular) are bad for you and can raise your cholesterol, increasing the likelihood of heart disease and other illnesses. But what are they and are they that bad for us??

For years, fat has been the bogeyman of bad health. Increasingly, however, research is showing that not all fats are equal. Some oils and fatty foods contain chemicals called essential fatty acids, which our bodies need for good health. How do you know the difference between good fats and bad fats?

 

MONOUNSATURATED FATS

How Much Have these in small amounts as they can help to keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
Found in Avocado, Olives, Rapeseed oil, Almonds, Cashew nuts, Hazelnuts, Peanuts, Pistachios, and any spread made from these nuts.

 

POLYUNSATURATED FATS

How Much Have these in small amounts as they can help to keep your cholesterol levels healthy (lowers LDL cholesterol) and provide essential fatty acids (Omega 3 & 6)
Found in Oily fish, Corn oil, Sesame oil, Soya oil and spreads made from these oils. Flaxseed, Pine nuts, Sesame seed, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts.

 

SATURATED FATS

How Much In moderation – this fat will raise your cholesterol!! Try to swap for unsaturated fats.
Found in Processed meats (burgers, sausages, ham), fatty meats, hard cheeses including cheddar, whole milk, cream, butter, lard, ghee, suet, palm oil, coconut oil.

 

TRANS FATS

How Much AVOID! Will increase your cholesterol. Any food with hydrogenated oils or fats in them will most likely contain trans fats.
Found in Takeaways, fried foods, biscuits, cakes, pastries, hard margarines.

 

The two essential fatty acids most important to good health are omega-3 and omega-6. But we need these in the right balance in order to protect our hearts, joints, pancreas, mood stability, and skin.

Unfortunately, we eat way too much omega-6, which is found in the corn oil and vegetable oils. Too much omega 6 can raise your blood pressure, lead to blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke, and cause your body to retain water.

We don’t eat nearly enough omega-3, which can reduce our risk for heart disease and cancer. Omega-3 is found in fish and fish oil, all green leafy vegetables, flax seed, hemp, and walnuts.

 

HOW MUCH FAT DO YOU REALLY NEED?

Most experts recommend that we get 30% of our calories from fat, although we can survive fine on as little as 20%, even 10% if you’re like most of us, you’re getting plenty of fat – most Americans consume about 40% of their calories from fats in meat, butter, cheese, baked goods, etc.

The better question to ask is, are you getting the enough of the right fats?

MAKING THE SWITCH

To make the switch to heart- healthy fats, start by avoiding the truly unhealthy fats – trans fatty acids.

These trans fats come from vegetable oils that were chemically modified so they are solid like butter. Because these oils don’t spoil as quickly as butter, they are used in most packaged cookies, chips, crackers, and other baked goods sold in the supermarket, as well as in margarines.

The solidifying process – called hydrogenation – extends the shelf life of food, but it also turns polyunsaturated oils into a kind of man-made cholesterol. Trans fats can increase your level of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and may increase your risk of heart disease. What’s more, these man-made fats are taken up by the body much easier than are omega-3s. So trans fatty acids not only harm your health, they also block the absorption of healthy fats.

 

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS:

THERE ARE SOME FATTY SNACKS THAT BOOST YOUR HEALTH!

Go Nuts

Nuts are the latest high-fat food to undergo a change in dietary reputation. Researchers found that women who reported eating a half serving of peanut butter or a full serving of nuts five or more times a week showed as much as a 30% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And the findings go on.

BRING ON THE FISH

For a while now, cold-water species of fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, striped bass, sardines, and herring have taken the spotlight as the best protein-rich food source because they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies show that people who eat such fish two times a week have less heart disease, a reduced risk of cancer, and improvements in mental health, particularly in mood function.

THE GOOD OILS

The health message about oils has not changed and is very simple. Stick to olive oil or canola oil.

Olive oil is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, which do not raise blood cholesterol levels. It also is a good source of vitamin E and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, reducing the oxygen-related damage to the vascular system.

Canola oil, on the other hand, has loads of monounsaturated fatty acids in the form of oleic acid. This acid has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and it may lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels without changing “good” HDL levels.

Also, canola oil is high in two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies can’t make: alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid.

 

FAT FACTS

  • We all need fat to Most people gain an average of just 1g of extra body fat a day.
  • A typical adult has approximately 50 billion fat cells, which means there are more fat cells in a human body than people on earth.
  • Current guidelines for fat intake are no more than 30g saturated fat/day for the average man and no more than 20g saturated fat/day for the average woman. For trans fats, both men and women should have no more than 5g/day.
  • We need some fats in our diets are they play an important role in our body and the essential fatty acids found in fats cannot be made by the body. Healthy skin and hair are all maintained by fat. Fat helps the body absorb the fat- soluble vitamins A D E and K through the bloodstream.
  • All fats are high in energy and just 1g provides 9kcal, but along with unused carbohydrates and proteins any unused fats will be converted into body fat!
  • The places you predominantly store fat and the places you lose it from are largely determined by gender and your genes.
  • Cholesterol is made in the liver and is carried in two different forms in our blood: LDL and HDL. (Low-density lipoprotein and High-density lipoprotein). LDL levels are what’s raised by consuming too much saturated fats whereas HDL cholesterol has a positive effect by removing any excess cholesterol and transporting it to the liver where it is broken down and disposed of.

 

BEWARE THE FOOD LABELS AND ‘LOWER FAT’ FOODS!

TOTAL FATS

FAT >17.5g of fat per 100g
LOW FAT < 3g of fat per 100g or 1.5g of fat per 100ml for liquids (1.8g of fat per 100ml for semi-skimmed milk)
FAT-FREE < 0.5g per 100g or 100ml

 

SATURATED FATS

HIGH IN SATURATED FAT >5g of saturates per 100g
LOW IN SATURATED FAT < 1.5g of saturates per 100g or < 0.75g per 100ml
SATURATED FAT-FREE < 0.1g of saturates per 100g or 100ml

 

A product MUST contain at least 30% or less when compared to a similar product for it to be labelled lower fat, reduced fat, or light. Bear in mind though that these foods might not necessarily be low in calories, sometimes the fats will be replaced by sugars and may result in a similar energy content.

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