These days, if you glance through any magazine, newspaper or TV Shows, you will realize that the trend is moving towards Healthy Food and Healthy Living. With the growing number of Overweight and Obese people, it is no wonder that people want to start living a healthy life. Many common health problems like Cardiovascular disease and Diabetes can be prevented with a healthy diet.
What is Fat?
Fat is a major Nutrient Class found in almost all Food Items. Fat supplies calories to the body along with Proteins and Carbohydrates. Body Fat is the storage house of calories Fats can be either solid or liquid at room temperature. Edible fats are obtained from both Plants and Animals. Edible Animal Fats include butter, fish oil, ghee and so on. Some examples of Edible Plant Fats are nuts, coconut oil and vegetable oils. Edible Fat can be further classified as Saturated Fat and Unsaturated Fat.
Saturated Fat is the main cause for High Blood Cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol) or High LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) Levels, which is a risk factor for Heat Disease. It is also linked to Breast Cancer, Prostate and Small Intestine Cancer. Dairy products like Whole Milk, Butter, Ghee, Cream, Cheese contain high proportion of saturated fat. Coconut Oil, Palm Oil and Cottonseed Oil are also notorious for high levels of Saturated Fats.
Food with Saturated Fats – Whole Milk, Butter, Ghee, Cream, Cheese, Meat, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Cottonseed Oil
There are two types of unsaturated fats – Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They’re found mainly in many fish, nuts, seeds and oils from plants. Unsaturated Fats don’t increase your Cholesterol the way saturated and trans fats do, but it is wise to consume it in limited amounts since they have lot of calories and can lead to obesity.
- Food with Monounsaturated Fats – Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil
- Food with Polyunsaturated Fats – Oily Fish, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil.
Although unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendation stated that the amount of unsaturated fat consumed should not exceed 30% of one’s daily caloric intake (or 67 grams given a 2000 Calorie diet).
Trans Fat is a type of Unsaturated Fat which should be avoided at all costs. Trans fats may be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Foods made with Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated Oils should be avoided because of their high trans fat content. Unlike other dietary fats, Trans Fats are not essential, and they do not promote good health. Trans fat can increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Other health risks associated with Trans Fat are Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and Infertility in Women.
Food with Trans Fat – Fried Foods, Fast Food, Commercially Prepared Baked Foods (Cakes, Cookies, Crackers), Processed Foods, Margarine, Shortenings
How to limit the Intake of Fat
It is a good idea to stay away from Fatty Foods to remain fit and healthy. If you are overweight or obese, then you should significantly cut down the daily intake of fat and follow a Low Calorie Diet with strict Portion Control. A Low Fat Diet is very useful in reducing health problems.
Keep total fat intake between 25 and 35 percent of calories, with most fat being Unsaturated. Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats used in moderation may help lower your blood cholesterol level when you use them in place of saturated and trans fats.
- Stay away from fast food, commercially baked and processed food items.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Limit the intake of dairy and animal products like milk, cheese, eggs, butter, ice cream and meats. Buy organic if possible.
- Look at food labels when shopping for grocery and avoid food high in Saturated Fat and Trans fat.
- Avoid food made using hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils since these are high in Trans Fat.
- Try using vegetable oil, soft margarine instead of butter, shortening and regular margarine.
- If you are consuming fat, it should becoming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
- Try using Non-Fat or Low-Fat versions of Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Salad Dressings and Mayonnaise instead of the regular varieties.
In addition to following a Low Fat diet, exercise and active life style can reduce health problems significantly.