A plug for fat Fat gets a bad rap . It’s actually good for you . Yes, good for you . It’s all about which type and how much fat you eat that decides whether fat is your friend or foe, so read on .
Along with carbohydrates, fat fuels your body at all times including during exercise . But unlike carbohydrates which are in a short supply in your body, fat is stored in abundance . Even the average lean person has enough fat stored to run several marathons in a row! So the bottom line is that most people don’t need to be concerned about fueling up with fat . However, you do need small amounts to perform other functions . Fat aids in nutrient exchange between cells, helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E, contributes to a feeling of fullness, regulates blood pressure and blood clot formation and helps maintain immune function .
Balancing your fat intake
Some fat is essential for good health, but eating too much of it can carry you in the other direction, increasing risk of weight gain, heart disease and certain cancers . The recommended fat intake is no more than 30% of your total daily calorie intake . Aiming for 20 to 25% is better if you want to lose weight . Because fat is essential for good health, th
World Health Organization recommends a lower limit of 15% of calories coming from fat .Choosing the best of the fatsAll fats have the same number of calories and can cause weight gain if eaten in excess . However, some fats are healthier for us than others .
• can increase blood cholesterol and promote heart disease
sources: meats, chicken, high-fat dairy products, butter, palm kernel oil, coconut oil .
recommendation: limit the amount in your diet by choosing lean cuts of meat, chicken without the skin and lower fat dairy products .
• help to lower blood cholesterol when eaten in moderation
and perform the essential functions in the body
sources: most vegetable oils, high fat fish, nuts and seeds .recommendation: choose in moderation regularly .
Which is better, margarine or butter?
For people who thought they were doing the right thing by choosing margarine over butter, it came as quite a blow to learn in the early 90s that trans fatty acids found in some margarines, can raise blood cholesterol levels just like the saturated fat of butter . Trans fatty acids are produced when a liquid vegetable oil like sunflower or corn oil is hardened via a process called hydrogenation . Oils are hydrogenated to make them more spreadable, to help extend the shelf life of products and are often used in deep-frying . Today you can purchase non-hydrogenated margarines that contain palm kernel or coconut oil instead of hydrogenated oil . Even though these two vegetable oils are saturated, these types of margarines contain less of the harmful fats than butter . Be a label reader to get the whole story .
Overall, we feel that you should limit the use of margarine or butter where possible . Learn to love a piece of fragrant crusty bread on it own . Pancakes taste just as good with just a splash of syrup or jam and if you use flavourful spreads like mustards and low-fat dips, you’ll never miss the greasy kid stuff .
Limiting trans fatty acids in your diet
Choose most often Vegetable oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean Soft, non-hydrogenated margarine Salad dressings made with oil Nuts and seeds in moderation Avocado and olives in moderation Choose less often
Cream Butter Shortening
Lard Hard margarine Regular cream cheese (Refer to Healthy Eating Introduction in this Section for a guide to choosing lower fat foods .)
Trans fatty acids aren’t listed on food labels but if you see hydrogenated oil or shortening in the ingredient list then trans fatty acids are present in the product . Many processed foods like crackers, cookies, chips and fried foods contain them . It’s virtually impossible to eliminate all trans fatty acids from your diet, however you can minimize your intake by eating more fresh food and less processed food . When cooking or baking, use pure vegetable oils instead of either butter or margarine .
Calling all cheese lovers
For many people, cheese is a major source of saturated fat and calories . But there is a way to still enjoy cheese without all the
fat . Use cheeses that are naturally lower in fat like goat cheese, feta, ricotta and cottage cheese . Many of the other high-fat cheeses like cheddar, come in lower-fat versions . Choose ones that have less than 20% milk fat (M .F .) . In some grocery stores you can find a spreadable low-fat cheese (Quark) that you can use on bagels or mix into pasta sauce for a low-fat cream sauce .And a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese only has 2 grams of fat . If you’re a cheese lover, these lower fat cheeses can make a big difference to your diet (refer to Fats and Cholesterol in this section for more information)