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Fatty Fat Fat

July 31, 2013

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For a number of years fats have been getting a pretty bad rap. Fats are essential for the absorption of vitamins a, d, e, and k, neurological function, healthy skin and hair. The problem is that we consume too much fat and usually the wrong kind. The four types of fats I will talk about are saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated:

Saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods like milk, cheese, and meat. Foods made with butter, margarine, and shortening have a lot of saturated fats. A diet high in saturated fat (10% or more of calories) can quickly raise your cholesterol level.

Trans Fats:

This is a fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life and makes it harder at room temperature. Harder fat makes crispier crackers and flakier pie crusts. Trans fat is called the worst kind of fat due to the fact that it raises your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your good cholesterol (HDL) which can increase your chances of heart issues. You will find trans fats in the following: processed foods, snack foods, cookies, and foods made with shortening and partially hydrogenated oils. The American Heart Association recommends that only 1% of your daily calories come from trans fats which translates to 15 calories on a 1500 calorie a day diet.

Unsaturated:

This fat is in vegetable oils, such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. Eating foods that are high in monounsaturated fats may help lower your “bad” cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats may also keep “good” cholesterol levels high. This may lower your risk of heart disease but eating more unsaturated fat without cutting back on saturated fat may not lower your cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated:

This type of fat is mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils. Polyunsaturated fat is also the main fat found in seafood. Eating polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. The two types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 (flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil,salmon) and omega-6 fatty acids (soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil).

Fats should account for 25-35% of your daily calories with 10% or less coming from saturated fat. Fats contain 9 calories per gram so even if you eat a lot the “good” fats the calories will still add up. Keep your diet balanced to make sure you get all of the nutrients you need in the right amounts.  Fats may not be all bad but remember, “Everything in Moderation!”

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