Tips for Health

Fat in the Diet: What is Good and What is Bad

By on May 18, 2012 in Dieting with 0 Comments

Certain fats should be part of a healthy diet. They can reduce their risk of disease. But you should make sure you are eating “good” fats instead of “bad” fats.

Why do I need fat in my diet?

Your body uses fat for energy. It also uses fat to form neural tissue and hormones, and to control inflammation. Fat also helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K from the food you eat.

But too much fat can contribute to obesity. Calories from fat are converted into fat more easily than carbohydrates and proteins. The fat in your diet can confuse your appetite so that you may not realize when you are full. Some fats also raise blood pressure and total cholesterol level, and may increase your risk of some cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

How much is too much?

Fat contains nine calories per gram, more than double that contain carbohydrates and proteins, which contain four calories per gram. Everyone has different caloric requirements. Your doctor can help to elucidate how many calories you need and how many of these can come from fat.

If you’re overweight, the American Heart Association recommends that you get less than 30% of their total calories from fat. Therefore, if your body requires 2,000 calories daily, you can consume up to 65 grams of fat each day.

What are “bad” fats?

Limit or avoid these fats:

Saturated fats: These are usually found in animal products such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products such as cheese, cream and whole milk or fat content of 2%. The oil palm, coconut and other tropical oils, like cocoa butter also contain saturated fats. Many snacks such as desserts, potato chips and French fries are high in saturated fat. A diet rich in saturated fat can raise your level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and can place it at a high risk for heart disease.

Trans fats : These fats are a type of man-made hydrogenated and usually found in processed foods such as cookies, cakes, donuts like “donuts”, crackers, snacks and frozen foods and also fried foods such such as French fries and onion rings. Trans fat is extremely harmful to you. This decreases the level of “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) while increasing their level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and triglycerides. Today, it is the obligation that all food manufacturers record on food labels for trans fat content. However, food can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving (portion), and yet, can be labeled as containing no trans fats. To avoid them completely, check the ingredient list and avoid partially hydrogenated oils.

The good fats

Monounsaturated fats: found in canola, olive, avocado, peanuts and other derivatives of nuts (walnuts), as well as legumes (dried beans and peas, olives, seeds, nuts, butter derived from nuts, and fresh avocados.

Polyunsaturated fats: found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower and safflower, as well as sesame seeds, sunflower, corn, soybeans (soybean), and many other varieties of grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Omega-3 fatty acids: These are usually found in seafood such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. Also found in flax seeds in the flax oil and walnuts.

Studies have shown that these fats, if used as a substitute for saturated fats, can help lower your total cholesterol level. The Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial, and studies have shown that these can also reduce your risk of inflammation or having a myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Tips for a healthy diet

You do not have to completely eliminate fat from your diet, but if you must limit the amount of fat you eat. Try eating foods made with unsaturated fats and avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats. Other things you can do include:

  • Avoid “junk”. It almost always contains trans fat.
  • Limit the amount of meat you eat. Substitute baked or broiled fish, poultry and vegetable proteins.
  • Use canola oil when baking.
  • Use olive oil when cooking, for salad dressings, and spread on bread.
  • Choose healthy choices of snacks. For example, try eating snacks that contain a small amount of unsalted peanuts or toasted¬†soybeans ¬†instead of potato chips.
  • Try putting your salad to your sandwich or a slice of avocado or add nuts or dried chickpeas.
  • Instead of butter, use soft or liquid margarine. Look for a margarine that is low in saturated fat and contains no trans fats.

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