Monday, February 9, 2009

FAT - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

You may have noticed in your food tracker that was passed out at the 1st weigh-in a section to mark off servings of "Good Fats & Oil". You may have thought to yourself, "Wait, I thought fat was bad and grease was worse?", well your right but your also wrong. When it comes to fat things can get a little confusing so lets take a tour of whats out there, what we need, and what we should avoid.

The Good

Unsaturated Fats are considered good fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels and stabilize heart rhythms, unsaturated fats are found in foods from plants, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seed and are liquids at room temperature.

-Monounsaturated Fats: often found in canola, peanut and olive oils; avocados, and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans.

-Polyunsaturated Fats: are found in oils such as sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed; and in foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish. One polyunsaturated fat that has become popular in recent in years is Omega-3 Fats. The body can not produce these fats so they must come from food. Fish is rich in omega-3 fats and should be consumed two to three times a week.

It has been found that most people do not get enough unsaturated fats each day so a good rule of thumb is to choose unsaturated fats over saturated whenever possible.

The Bad

Saturated fat is considered a "bad fat" in that since the body makes it naturally we don't need to eat any of it. Saturated fat has undesirable effect in cardiovascular disease and also raises harmful LDL cholesterol.

While it is ideal to keep your intake of saturated fats as low as possible saturated fats are part of such foods as vegetable oils which are mainly unsaturated fats, so it is not possible to eliminated saturated fat completely from our diets. So keep in mind that most saturated fats are found in red meat, cheese, milk , and ice cream so eat them sparingly.

The Ugly

Trans Fats, also know as Trans Fatty acids, are made by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas. Oils are hydrogenated in order to make them more stable and less likely to spoil. Trans Fats are commonly found in prepackaged baked goods, margarine, and fried foods. Trans Fats are worse on cholesterol levels than saturated fats and even a small amount of trans fats can have adverse health effects. On average a person consumes about 6 grams of trans fats a day and ideally individuals should not consume more then 2 grams a day. However, new labeling laws have gone into affect that require products that contain trans fats to be labeled appropriately.

3 Rules for Fats

1. Eliminate trans fats from your diet - read the food labels.

2. Limit your intake of saturated fats - cut back on red meat & full-fat dairy foods.

3. Eat one or more good sources omega-3 fats every day - fish, walnuts, canola or soybean oil, ground flax seeds or flaxseed oil.


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