Saturday, March 1, 2008

Truth About FAT

Fats are by far the most efficient energy storage form. They have various functions in the body including providing energy for cells, controlling what goes in and out of cells, determining the integrity of nervous tissue and helping to form hormones.

Fat is an important and necessary part of a healthy diet (even a weight loss diet). One of the most important functions of fat is its role in aiding the absorption of fat-soluble Vitamins A, E, D, and K. Without fat, your body can't use these vitamins to unlock their health benefits. Though protein foods will make you feel full for the longest, fat follows closely behind. A meal with a bit of fat and protein can help you feel full and take your mind off food, ultimately giving you greater control over the amount of calories you eat.




There are many different types of fats and they can be conveniently divided into four main categories: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and trans fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Nuts including peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios, avocado, canola and olive oil are high in MUFAs. MUFAs have also been found to help in weight loss, particularly body fat.

Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Seafood like salmon and fish oil, as well as corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids belong to this group.

Saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and seafood. Some plant foods are also high in saturated fats such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Trans fats are the result of industrial hydrogenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Basically manufacturers partially hydrogenate to get fats that are easier to cook with and spoil less than naturally occurring oils. As a result of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fatty acids are found in many commercially packaged foods, commercially fried food such as French Fries from some fast food chains, other packaged snacks such as microwaved popcorn as well as in vegetable shortening and hard stick margarine.

Remember these:

  • avoid using cooking oils that are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats such as coconut oil, palm oil or vegetable shortening. Instead, use oils that are low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, olive oil and flax seed oil.
  • minimize using commercially packaged foods which are high in trans fats. Always read labels to look for trans-fat free alternatives.
  • as saturated fats are found in animals products, use lower-fat version dairy such as 1% or skim milk instead of whole milk. Trim visible fats and skins from meat products.

10 Tips To Reduce Fat In Your Diet

  1. Steam, boil, broil, or microwave vegetables, or stir-fry them in a small amount of vegetable oil.
  2. Season vegetables with herbs and spices rather than sauces, butter, or margarine.
  3. Try lemon juice or fat-free dressing on salad, or use a yogurt based dressing instead of mayonnaise or sour cream dressing.
  4. To reduce saturated fat, use vegetable oil or tub margarine instead of butter or stick margarine when possible.
  5. Replace whole milk with skim or low-fat milk in puddings, soups, and baked products. Substitute plain nonfat yogurt, blender-whipped cottage cheese, low-fat sour cream, or buttermilk in recipes that call for sour cream
  6. Choose lean cuts of meat, and trim any visible fat from meat before and after cooking. Remove skin from poultry before or after cooking. Monitor portion sizes. (Lean meats end in "loin".)
  7. Roast, bake, or broil meat, poultry, or fish, so that fat drains away as the food cooks.
  8. Use a nonstick pan for cooking so added fat will be unnecessary, use a vegetable spray for frying.
  9. Chill broths from meat or poultry until the fat becomes solid. Spoon off the fat before using the broth.
  10. Eat a low-fat vegetarian main dish at least once a week.

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