Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Good Fat, Bad Fat.

The general knowledge for many years was that all types of fat should be avoided i.e trans fat, unsaturated fat, saturated fat- just stay the hell away from them all. But now, scientist realize that fat and how our bodies process it is much more complex.

Our bodies need some fat for proper functioning, but we need the right kinds of fat and also to place moderation in their consumption. Some fats are actually good for the body and others should be avoided at all cost. So  how do we know which is good and bad?

According to researchers, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats are 'good fats' and that saturated fats can be consumed in moderation. Trans fat should be avoided all together because they are dangerous as they raise cholesterol levels. High levels of certain kinds of cholesterol, in particular low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol- the so called bad cholesterol- increases the risk of heart diseases and other health conditions including stroke.

So how do we know which foods contain which fats. As a general rule, fats that are liquid at room temperature like olive oil are a better choice than foods that are semi solid at room temperature like butter or margarine.

The following tips will help in choosing a diet rich in mono and poly unsaturated fats and also low in trans fat.

Mono unsaturated fat
Good examples of mono unsaturated fat are olive and canola oils and avocado.
Tip; Olive and canola oils are best for cooking.

Poly unsaturated fat
There are two types of poly unsaturated fat- omega 6 and omega 3 fats. We get plenty of omega 6 fats in our diet from vegetable oil, some sources of omega 3 fats are salmon, tuna and walnuts (asala).
Tip; Snack on a handful of walnuts, include fish in your meals.

Saturated fat
Red meat, dairy products, and thicker vegetable oils like coconut, palm and kernel oils are sources of saturated fats.
Tip; One can enjoy red meat every now and then, also, limiting the consumption of saturated fats to 10% of our diet.

Trans fat
This is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, a process designed to extend the shelf life of packaged goods, trans fat is found in a wide range of processed foods such as bakery items, crackers and cookies.
Tip; Check the labels of processed foods for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients.

The bottom line is to be an educated shopper i.e know what to look for and the potential pitfalls.
One can as well focus consumption on fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean cuts of meat and fish.


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