Since we recently heard from Dr. Barry Sears all about eating good quality fats, I thought it might be helpful for you to get your hands a little dirty in, well…fat. To be fair, many clients I met sheepishly admit to knowing very little about what fats are food and what are ‘bad’.
So, I turned to my friend Michael McCauley of Vitaerobics.com. He and his wife Johnell are a powerhouse team of family-friendly diet info to help people like you and me understand how to eat better. They also happen to know a lot about fat.
In the following article, Michael does an excellent job of clarifying what fats are and how they differ. Sure it’s basic information, yet SOOOO important to understand. Michael and Johnell even helped me learn a good way to remember the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats.
Saturated = Solid @ room temp
Unsaturated = un-Solid @ room temp
Without further adieu…
The Skinny on Fats in Food
By: Michael McCauley of Vitaerobics.com
A lot has been written about fat in recent years. Some people portray it as a “super villain” while others actually encourage people to include more fat in their diets. So what’s the real story? The American Heart Association (AHA) says that a healthy diet should include no more than 30% of total calories from fat, and ideally no more than 20%. Some fat in your diet is essential to good health, but too much fat can lead to health issues. One thing is for sure – in today’s pre-packaged, fast food world, it’s very easy to have too much fat in your diet.
While the total percent of fat in your diet is important, so is the type of fat. There are basically two types of fat in food – saturated and unsaturated. In general, saturated fats are solid at room temperature (like the fat on your steak), while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (like cooking oils).
This type of fat is found mainly in foods from animals. Meats like beef, veal, lamb, pork, and poultry all contain saturated fat. Dairy products like butter, whole milk and cheese also contain saturated fat. It is found in some plant-based foods, too. For example, coconut and palm oils (often called “tropical oils”) are high in saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 7% or less of your total calories.
This type of fat is a bit more complicated. Unsaturated fats can be further divided into poly-unsaturated fats, mono-unsaturated fats and trans fats. Unsaturated fats are normally found in fish, nuts, seeds and some plant oils. Salmon and trout are good sources, as well as avocados, olives, walnuts and other vegetable oils.
A third type of unsaturated fat has become an issue in recent years. It is called “trans fat.” Most doctors agree that trans fats should be avoided whenever possible. Trans fats can both raise your LDL (the “lousy” cholesterol) and lower your HDL (the “healthy” cholesterol). For the most part, trans fat is artificially created by processed food manufacturers.
Trans fats are listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated (pronounced hi-DRAW-gen-ated) oil,” because it is created during the hydrogenation process that changes liquid oils into more stable solid fats. So, if trans fats are bad for you, why do food producers use them? They are mainly used to lengthen shelf life, enhance flavor and improve consistency. What’s important to note is that it’s NOT used to make processed foods healthier! In fact, it has the opposite effect. Many studies have shown that the consumption of trans fat contributes to increased cholesterol, clogged arteries and heart disease.
The bottom line is that you need some fat in your diet, but not all fats are created equal. Keep fat to less than 30% of your total calorie intake each day, and minimize the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet. Be an informed consumer and know what you’re eating.
Remember, knowledge and action set the stage for great health! What actions will you take today?
About the author: A Nutrition Specialist, speaker, author, and teleseminar host, Michael McCauley is co-creator of Nutrition Unmasked™, Vitaerobics’ signature program that reveals the secrets of healthy, diet-free living without giving up the foods you love. Michael can be reached by visiting the Vitaerobics website at www.Vitaerobics.com.