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Facts about Fats

 

Written by Jolyne Babineau

Jolyne has a Master's degree in clinical nutrition. She has a true passion for the field and enjoys doing research on any topics related to dietetics.


Confused about the types of fat you eat and about how much to consume? We are often bombarded with information on this, however it’s often hard to decipher between good and bad information. For example, tropical oils such as coconut oil are deemed by many experts as “bad” fats. However, a fairly new diet called the “coconut diet” deems coconut oil to be one of the best fats known to mankind! So as consumers, what should we believe?

With the ever increasing number of people diagnosed with high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure it is crucial for the population to understand that not all fats are bad and some are actually good for you.

There are three types of naturally occurring dietary fats: saturated; polyunsaturated; and monounsaturated. There is also a manufactured fat called hydrogenated fat or as most of us know it as trans fatty acid. Let’s classify these fats as “good” and “bad” fats.

 

“Bad Fats”

Saturated fatty acids are fats that are solid at room temperature and the majority are found in animal products such as butter, fat on meats, lard, high fat milk products, tropical oils such as coconut oil and etc. This fat is very stable and doesn’t combine readily with oxygen so it’s often a good product to bake and cook with. It does however raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your blood and is not good for heart health.

 

Trans fatty acids are fats that are also hard at room temperature but are made by a process called hydrogenation. During food processing, they take good oil such as vegetable oil and add hydrogen to solidify it and make a product that resembles saturated fat. This makes the product much more stable and adds to its shelf life.

Trans fats are found in hard margarines, baked goods, etc. Recent studies have shown that these types of fats not only raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels but also lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels in your blood making them extremely bad for your heart health.

 

 “Good Fats”

Monounsaturated fatty acids are fats that are liquid at room temperature but start to harden in the refrigerator. These are found in most vegetable oils in different amounts. They are deemed as good for your heart health when you use them instead of saturated or trans fat.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are fats that are liquid at room temperature and also in the refrigerator. Safflower oil, fish oil, flaxseeds, etc. are high in polyunsaturated fats. These types of fatty acids are the best for you health as they help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

So if you were diagnosed with high cholesterol or even are concerned about your heart health, it is important to understand that mono- and poly- unsaturated fats give benefits to our health.

Good Fat Benefits:

  • Helps with the absorption of vitamins A,D,E, and K. Without fats, these fat-soluble vitamins cannot fully nourish our bodies.

  • Supplies our body with energy to give us enough fuel for our body to function properly and even to keep us alive.

  • Offers sensory qualities that make food taste good.

  • Stored in our bodies it helps to cushion our organs, to form fat layers under our skin to keep us keep warm, etc.

The recommendations for fat intake are: 

  • Less than 30% of your calories should come from fat. For example, if you ate 2000 calories per day, only 600 of those calories should come from fat. If 1g of fat equals 9 calories then divide 600/9 and it equals to 67g. So the recommended amount of fat per day would be less than 67g.

  • Less than 10% of your calories should come from saturated and trans fatty acids. So use the same formula which is 10% of 2000=200 calories/ 9 calories = 22 g. It is recommended to eat less than 22g of saturated and trans fatty acids per day based on a 2000-calorie per day diet.

 

 

So if you’re looking to add healthier fats to your diet and rid some of the bad fats, try these things out: 

  • Eat at least two 2½ oz serving of fish every week. Salmon; mackerel; char; sardines; herring and trout are the highest in omega-3 an essential fat that has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

  • Have vegetarian sources of protein often. Try tofu, beans, and nuts in your meal rather than meat. This will help eliminate some saturated fats and replace them with unsaturated ones.

  • When eating meat, go for the leaner cuts. Loins are usually low in fats. Chicken or turkey without the skin is better. Also watch your portion size.

  • Try broiling; grilling; and boiling instead of frying.

  • Stick with lower fat milk products. Milk and Yogurt should be less than 2% M.F. (Milk Fat) and cheese should be under 20% M.F. (Milk Fat).

On the whole, fats are essential for health. Be aware of claims though. They might state that a certain product is “trans fat free”, but what does that truly mean? It could be full of saturated fats, which is also a bad fat. Always look at your labels.  They paint the big picture. Contact your local grocery store to find out if they offer nutritional label tours with a registered dietician. This is a great way of understanding how to read labels and they can also show you the best products to buy.

 


There are plenty of good weight loss programs and advice available. One that we like is a new approach by  Dr Suzanne Gudakunst called The Fat Secret. This method has had remarkable results, Check It Out Here...


 

 

 

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