Understanding the facts on fat is a confusing process. You read terms such as trans fat, saturated fat, omega-3s and cholesterol. One day the headlines tell you fat is a killer, but the next day they insist it is crucial to human existence. It’s so confusing?
Luckily, it’s not as baffling as it seems. Fat is a vital part of all diets that, like anything else, needs to be consumed in moderation. What’s important is understanding the good fats from the bad fats and knowing how to identify them in the food we eat.
Like carbohydrates, fat is fuel for the body and especially useful for long-term aerobic exercise. It helps with the digestion of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and it promotes a feeling of fullness after eating.
It plays an important part in the production of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting and the nervous system.
Fat also provides essential fatty acids, in particular omega-3, which is found in several fats and oils, mainly fish, soy and flax seed. Omega-3 fatty acids help us with brain development, nervous system function and eyesight. Many experts also believe they reduce the risk of arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Just like proteins and carbohydrates, eating fat requires some self control. About 20-30% of your calories should be from fat. Higher percentages can put you at increased risk for obesity, diabetes and heart problems. A gram of fat is 9 calories, as opposed to 4 calories in a gram of protein or carbohydrates so you should be eating about half as much.
Our bodies need cholesterol. It is important in the creation and maintenance of cell membranes, the creation of sex hormones, and, combined with sunlight, it creates vitamin D. But our bodies create all the cholesterol we need. Therefore eating a lot of it clogs your arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack. Cholesterol is controlled by maintaining a healthy diet, one that is low in fat.
Types of Fat
Monounsaturated Fats contain HDLs, which can help prevent heart disease by flushing out your system. Monounsaturated fats are also more resistant to oxidation, something that leads to cell and tissue damage. They can be found in olives and olive oils, peanuts, canola oil, avocados and many nuts.
Polyunsaturated Fat– Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats which help with brain development, nervous function, eyesight and many other benefits. They’re also packed with HDLs. Many vegetable oils, including safflower, sunflower and soy, are polyunsaturated. Fish is also an excellent source.
Saturated Fat – You want to limit the amount of situated fats you eat as this is considered a “bad” fat. For the most part, these fats are loaded with LDLs, which means they can cause high cholesterol. Saturated fats can be found in red meat, whole dairy products and tropic oils such as coconut oil.
Trans Fat – These are the fats you want to avoid. Processed food manufacturers discovered that if you hydrogenate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, they’d become more solid and spoil later which helps packaged food last longer. Today, they are used in most commercial baked goods — cookies, crackers, donuts, pie, cake, as well as shortenings, candy, and margarines. Tran’s fats will raise your cholesterol levels which can hurt your heart and health.
We all need to consume the “good fats” and the common eating patterns of most American’s make the need to supplement a reality. Healthy Choice Naturals offers several supplements containing the “good fats” you need to protect and maintain your healthy future.