Type the word “fat” into your search bar. Thousands of articles dedicated to the dreaded word will pop up.

As a fitness, nutrition and medical world buzz word, “FAT” elicits a strong negative response.

You need to lose fat!

Stop eating so many fatty foods!

To be on a truly healthy path of life, shouldn’t you eliminate fat completely?

No.

Our body NEEDS fat to survive.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines includes a recommendation that adults get 20%-35% of their calories from fats.  While that sounds doable, the typical American consumes between 34%-40% of their calories from fat. Most of that fat comes from dangerous sources that lead to obesity and heart disease.

Strangely enough, fats comprise part of a healthy diet. Healthy fats:

  • supply your body with energy
  • help keep your skin soft and smooth
  • help in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • are instrumental in blood clotting and muscle movement

There are two main categories of fats:

  • saturated fats: bad fats
  • unsaturated fats: the good fats
Trans Fats

Food manufacturers use trans fats to increase shelf life, which decreases their costs. A natural amount of trans fat exists in some foods, like dairy. We need to watch out for processed trans fats found in junk foods because hydrogenated oils affect heart health. They increase “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

“Trans fat is a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid. When vegetable oil is heated in the presence of hydrogen and a heavy-metal catalyst such as palladium, hydrogen atoms are added to the carbon chain. This turns oils into solids. It also makes healthy vegetable oils more like not-so-healthy saturated fats. On food label ingredient lists, this manufactured substance is typically listed as partially hydrogenated oil.”(2)

Many products list trans fat as a main ingredient. It’s often disguised as “partially hydrogenated oil.” Products often made with partially hydrogenated oil include:

  • french fries
  • margarine
  • pre-made cake and muffin mixes
  • frosting
  • frozen meals
  • crackers
  • peanut butter
  • cocoa mix
  • microwave popcorn

These products also sometimes contain trans fats:

  • bread
  • pasta
  • breakfast cereals
  • frozen snack foods
  • low-fat ice cream

Health advocates strongly encourage you to read labels. Read labels carefully. The FDA allows products to be labeled “trans-fat-free” if they contain less than .5 grams per serving. There are no health benefits to eating trans fats.

Saturated Fats

Avoid saturated fats as much as possible. These fats are found in:

  • animal products
    • meat
    • poultry skin
    • high-fat dairy
    • eggs
  • vegetable fats that are liquid at room temperatures, such as coconut and palm oils

The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to no more than 7% of your daily intake of calories. An abundance of saturated fats in your diet can lead to heart disease, and some studies indicate a link between these fats and colon cancer.

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

There are two main categories for “good” fats:

  • monounsaturated fats
  • polyunsaturated fats

When used in moderation, these fats can be instrumental in lowering both LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. (2) Omega-3 fatty acids are credited with increasing heart health as well as decreasing the risk of stroke.

Found mostly in vegetable oils, polyunsaturated fats are essential fatty acids. Our bodies cannot produce them, but they are required for normal body healthy; hence, our need to get them from our food choices.

“There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.”(2)

Polyunsaturated fats are found primarily in:

  • fatty fish
    • salmon
    • mackerel
    • sardines
  • flaxseeds
  • walnuts
  • canola oil
  • un-hydrogenated soybean oil

A primary component of the Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that people who eat foods with monounsaturated fats regularly have a low rate of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are found in

  • olive oil
  • peanut oil
  • canola oil
  • avocados
  • most nuts
  • safflower oil
  • sunflower oils

Replacing even a fraction of your bad fat food intake with good fat food intake can make a huge difference in your overall health. To help you stay on the road to a healthy life, take the time to read ingredient labels and make a conscious effort to avoid bad fats.


Are you ready to change your eating habits? Contact us to start a nutrition plan. We’re here to help!



References
Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Web.
“The Truth about Fats: the good, the bad and the in-between”.  The Family Health Guide. Web. Harvard Health Publications.
Zelman, Kathleen M. MPH, RD, LD.  “The Skinny on Fat. Good Fats vs. Bad Fats.” Web MD. Web.