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Know Your Fats!

In a few older posts, I have mentioned some facts about fats..Good fats vs Bad fats and so on. This “educational”post talks about the topic in more detail since I have seen quite a few people with cholesterol problems or others that lack the knowledge…so here goes! Fats made simple…

Fat is another building block of food, just like protein and carbohydrates are. Fats provide us with the highest amount of calories and are divided into 3 major types – Saturated, Polyunsaturated & Monounsaturated.

Saturated Fat is found in animal foods like fatty meat, milk, butter, cream & cheese and is responsible for raising your LDL ( ‘bad cholesterol’) levels. These fats are therefore labeled ‘BAD FATS’. (Note: Saturated fats are also found in coconut & palm) So which foods should we limit?
  • Fatty cuts of lamb (e.g. chops), fatty beef & pork (bacon, crackling)
  • Chicken cooked with skin on, chicken skin and fat, duck.
  • Processed meats such as sausages, luncheon meats, salami)
  • Full cream milks, full fat cheese, and full fat yoghurts.
  • Butter, cream, dripping, lard, copha, ghee.
  • Mayonnaise and commercial salad dressings that are cream based.
  • Pastries, croissants, pies, commercial biscuits and cakes.
  • Chocolate, cheesecakes, donuts.
  • Potato crisps, fried hot chips.
  • Fried take away foods.
  • Palm oil, coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut flesh.

Polyunsaturated Fats exist in two forms – Omega 3 & Omega 6 fats. As I’ve mentioned previously, omega 3s help lower total blood & LDL cholesterol levels, triglycerides and protect the heart. Aim to include foods rich in Polys such as:

  • Fish – mackerel, tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, trevally, pilchards.
  • Sunflower oil, safflower oil, sesame & soybean oils, wheatgerm oil, linseed (flaxseed) oil.
  • Walnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower & sesame seeds.
  • Soy milk, soy yoghurt.

Monounsaturated fats can also help lower blood cholesterol levels and raise your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. Foods to include in your diet include the following:

  • Olive oil, canola oil, macadamia oil, peanut oil, peanut butter.
  • Avocado.
  • Peanuts, macadamias, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans.

Note: Seeds, nuts, nut spreads & peanut oil contain a combination of polys and monos. However, such foods should be consumed in moderation as they have a high calorie content.

Have you heard of TRANS FATS? These fats are formed by heating liquid vegetable oils with hydrogen in order to make them solid, a process called hydrogenation. They are found in margarines, processed foods, snack foods and commercially fried foods. Just like saturated fats – trans fats raise your ‘bad cholesterol’ levels (LDL) and also lower your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. Nowadays, manufacturers are adopting new production methods to reduce levels of trans fats produced. Some countries have banned foods containing more than 2% trans fat while others require the trans fat content to included on food labels.
Moving on to Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty wax like substance that is produced by the body, in the liver. There are two types of cholesterol as you probably would have realized – Good HDL Cholesterol & Bad LDL cholesterol.
What you need to know is this – when you eat foods containing saturated or trans fats, your body will produce cholesterol. If you consume a lot of these fats, your body will produce a lot of cholesterol. That could increase your risk of having high blood cholesterol levels and in turn, increase your risk of heart disease. Solution? BUHBYE SATURATED! Hello Polys & Monos! But again, keep in mind that fats are still fattening regardless of type so watch out for quantities.

My message – Get your balance of fats right in your diet!

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