Understanding Fats in our diets ?

It is indeed confusing out there all this information about fats. We have Trans Fats or better known as (Hydrogenated Fats), Saturated Fats, Unsaturated Fats, Polyunsaturated fats, and Monounsaturated fats. So let’s take a quick look at them all. Trans fats are made by a chemical process called partial hydrogenation. Liquid vegetable oil (an otherwise healthy monounsaturated fat) is packed with hydrogen atoms and converted into a solid fat. This made what seemed an ideal fat for food manufactures because of its high melting point. It also gives food a very tasty smooth texture which makes it very appealing to the consumer. This fat does indeed extend the shelf life of foods. Things like, pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits French fries, icing, contain this fat. Yes, all those things we love but know we shouldn’t eat! They were, when originally developed, seen as an alternative to saturated fats like butter. Numerous studies now reveal that Trans fats are not good for us. While saturated fats can (and do) raise our LDL levels (baddies) it seems Trans Fats are responsible for also stripping us of the HDL (The Goodies…High Density Lipoproteins) The Trans Fats also increase our levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream. The rise in triglycerides increases our risk of heart disease. It is important that we don’t eliminate fats from our diet as they have a very useful role to play. They are a dense source of calories offering the consumer 9 calories per gram of fat. So they can offer a more concentrated source of energy. Fats are used for the supply to our bodies of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid for our growth, healthy skin and stabilizing our metabolism. Fats assist with enabling the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, K, and D. By consuming fat we certainly have a better satiety level which makes us feel less hungry for longer. Saturated fats come from animals such as dairy, eggs, and meat. While some will advocate avoiding these totally it is my suggestion that this is not good. We do need saturated fats in our diet as stated above. The other very significant role is that they allow our bodies to reproduce certain hormones. We now see consumers (and for good reason) move away from the Trans fats and go back to a diet that contains small amounts of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are made up of Monounsaturated fats and Polyunsaturated fats. They come from vegetables and plants. Monounsaturated fats are seen as a liquid at room temperature. They then begin to solidify at cold temperatures or when refrigerated. This type of fat is preferable to other types of fat and can be found in olives, olive oil, nuts, peanut oil, canola oil and avocados. Some studies have shown that these kinds of fats can actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintain HDL (good) cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats are also liquid when at room temperature. Foods that contain polyunsaturated fats are safflower, corn, and soybean oils. This type of fat has also been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. However too much polyunsaturated fats can also lower our HDL cholesterol levels. (The good ones) Omega-3 fatty acids on the other hand are an “essential” fatty acid, which means it’s critical for our health and well being these cannot be made by our bodies so it is important that we eat these in our diet. Good sources of omega 3 fatty acids include cold-water fish, flax seed, soy, and walnuts. These fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and also boost our immune systems.

So in a nutshell avoid Trans Fats, use small amounts of saturated fats and increase the intake of Omega -3 Fatty Acids, and Monounsaturated fats. EAT: Fatty Fish, Avocados, walnuts, flax seed, and lean small amount of red meat, and cover that grainy natural organic bread with small amounts of real butter. :)

By: John Hart

Master’s In Education” (Disability/Rehab) Newcastle University Australia

“Grad Cert Education” Newcastle University Australia

“Diploma Fitness/Recreation”

“Diploma of Sport and Recreation”

“Cert 4 Personal Training”

“Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach”

Member of ASCA (Australian Strength and Conditioning Association)

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