ALL ABOUT FATS
Fats helps nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, maintaining cell membrane integrity etc. However, when consumed in excess amount, fats contribute to weight gain, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Fats are not created equal. Some fats promote our health positively while others increase our risks of heart disease. The key is to replace bad fats with good fats in our diet.
THE GOOD FATS
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
Nuts including peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios, avocado, canola and olive oil are high in MUFAs. MUFAs have been found to help in weight loss, particularly body fat.
Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Seafood like salmon and fish oil, as well as corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids belong to this group.
THE NOT SO BAD FATS
Found In: Cheeses, high-fat cuts of meat, whole-fat milk and cream, butter, ice cream and ice cream products as well as palm and coconut oils
Saturated fat is been given the step treatment for over a couple of deacdes now. It is long attributed to a host of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. A 2010 study involving 21 studies and nearly 350,000 people by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that saturated fat could not be linked to either disease.
Saturated fat does have an important place in the diet. However, it is high in calories hence should be consumed in limited quantities.
THE UGLY FATS
Trans fats are invented as scientists began to “hydrogenate” liquid oils so that they can withstand better in food production process and provide a better shelf life. As a result of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fatty acids are found in many commercially packaged foods, commercially fried food such as French Fries from some fast food chains, other packaged snacks such as microwaved popcorn as well as in vegetable shortening and hard stick margarine.
What can we do?
Heart Smart Diet
- Avoid using cooking oils that are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats such as coconut oil, palm oil or vegetable shortening. Instead, use oils that are low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, olive oil and flax seed oil.
- Minimize using commercially packaged foods which are high in trans fats. Always read labels to look for trans-fat free alternatives.
- As saturated fats are found in animals products, use lower-fat version dairy such as 1% or skim milk instead of whole milk.
- Trim visible fats and skins from meat products.