Fat is Not a Four-Letter Word!
Understanding the different types of fats is crucial to maintaining a healthy body. Your body needs fat. Healthy fats fuel your brain, make your hair shine and your skin glow. Eating healthy fat provides us with energy and helps feel satisfied by preventing hunger soon after eating.
Fat is also needed so your body can absorb fat soluble vitamins A, S, E and K and prevent you becoming deficient in these.
Eliminating Healthy Fat from Your Diet is Not Smart!
I remember the “no fat” craze. Everyone was trying to eliminate all types of fat from their diet. Fat was being replaced in foods with sugars, starches, and artificial ingredients because they had to find a way to make it taste good once all the fat was removed.
Suddenly everything from cheeses to cookies was labeled “fat-free,” and people took that as a license to eat however much they wanted of “fat-free” foods. But everyone was just eating way too much junk thinking they were doing themselves a favor by eliminating fat. In reality, people were doing themselves a disservice, because all those excess empty carbs that the body cannot use ended up being stored as fat instead!
Good Fats versus Bad Fats:
In the battle for health, there are good fats and there are bad fats. Let’s break down the different types of fat.
- Saturated Fat: Saturated fats are found in animal fats and tropical oils. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. Saturated fats contribute to elevated cholesterol levels. Examples of saturated fats are butter, full-fat cheeses and dairy products, and the fatty cuts of meats. Examples of tropical oils with saturated fat are palm kernel oil and coconut oil.
- Trans-Fatty Acids: These fats are made from a chemical process that hydrogenates oils. You will see frequently this listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oil. These fats are bad bad bad. You need to eliminate these fats from your diet completely. You will also find trans-fat in fried foods and in a lot of processed packaged foods. These fats will also raise your cholesterol. Read your food labels, if the label says “partially hydrogenated oil” or “hydrogenated oil” toss it out, or better, don’t buy it. Examples of trans fats are margarine and shortening.
- Unsaturated Fat: Unsaturated fats are typically from plant sources. They are found in fish, nuts, seeds and oils from plants. There are two types of unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat helps to raise good cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats are the healthy fats that your body loves. Examples of unsaturated fats are olive oil, avocado, flaxseed oil, raw nuts and seeds, and fish and seafood.
How Much Fat Do You Need?
You should limit your total fat intake to about 25% of your daily diet. For example, if you are eating a 1,500-calorie diet, you want to aim for about 375 calories of that coming from mostly healthy unsaturated fat. To put this in perspective, a tablespoon of olive oil contains about 120 calories, and a medium-sized avocado contains about 125 calories. Drizzle some olive oil on your salad or add some avocado to your whole grain sandwich. Try flax seed oil for a change on your yams with a little Himalayan Sea Salt.Try flax seed oil for a change on your yams with a little Himalayan Sea Salt.
Please Read Food Labels
Remember to read the food labels to learn about the types of fat a food contains. Just because a package says “no trans fat” on the front, does not mean it does not contain partially hydrogenated oils. The FDA allows companies to put “no trans fat” on the package if it contains less than 0.5 gram per serving of trans-fat; however, it has to be listed on the package ingredients. You will see it listed as “partially hydrogenated oil,” “shortening,” or “hydrogenated oil.” So read labels!!! I know I say that a lot, but I want you to be a “label hound!”