A Quick Guide on Nutrition - Fats

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Fats are the most misunderstood category of nutrients as we always think Fats are bad. But Dietary Fats are good for us because:
  • It provides the greatest Energy source per gram of food.
  • It improves the taste, aroma and texture of the food and helps in Digestion.
  • It plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair.
  • It protects internal organs from shock and injury.
  • It is an essential source of Fatty Acids. Human body does not manufacture these.
  • Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning they can only be digested, absorbed and transported in conjunction with fats. In absence of fats, our body cannot access these vitamins from the food we eat.

5 Myths and Facts on Fats

1. Myth: All fats are equal - and equally bad for you
Fact: Saturated fats and trans fat are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.

2. Myth: Lowering the amount of fat you eat is what matters the most
Fact: The mix of fats you eat, rather than the total amount in your diet, is what matters most when it comes to your cholesterol and health. The key is to eat more good fats and less bad fats.

3. Myth: Fat-free means healthy
Fact: A "fat-free" label doesn't mean you can eat all you want without consequences to your waistline. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and calories.

4. Myth: All body fat is the same
Fact: Where you carry your fat matters. The health risks are greater if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen, as opposed to your hips and thighs. A lot of belly fat is stored deep below the skin surrounding the abdominal organs and liver, and is closely linked to insulin resistance and diabetes.

5. Myth: Eating a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss
Fact: Cutting calories is the key to weight loss. Since fats are filling, they can help curb over-eating.

Sources of Fats
- Animal fats are solid in room temperature. Travel in sticky globs, cling to wall of blood vessels, clog arteries.
- Butter and cream melt at body temperature and can be absorbed without much digestive work.

- Liquid at room temperature. 
- Good for cardiovascular disease and protection from cancer.

- Best fat to consume. But very unstable and sensitive to heat, light and air.
- Contains 2 Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-6 and Omega-3.

What are BAD Fats?
Saturated fat – Milk, butter, cheese, lard, palm and coconut oil, chicken with skin, high-fat cuts of meat.
Trans fat - Packaged snack food (chips, crackers), hydrogenated fat (pastries, cookies, muffins, cakes, pizza), margarine, fried food, vegetable shortening.

What are GOOD Fats?
Mono-unsaturated fat – Avocados, oils (olive, sesame, canola, sunflower, peanut), nuts (almond, macadamia, pecan, hazel, cashew, peanut).
Poly-unsaturated fat – Oil (soybean, corn, safflower), walnuts, seeds (pumpkin, flaxseed, sesame), fatty fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardine), tofu, soymilk.

Essential Fatty Acids are important for your body because:
We need Omega-3 and Omega-6 to survive, but have to outsource as our body cannot manufacture.
Omega-3 source = flaxseed oil, salmon, tuna, trout, green leafy vege.
Omega-6 source = oils (safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame), almond, avocado, walnut, pumpkin seeds.
Shopping Tips for Good Oils

1. Avoid oils stored in clear, plastic bottles. The oils should be stored in dark bottles.
2. Read the label.
For Olive Oil - look for virgin or extra-virgin (Not natural, light, pure, cold-pressed etc).
The oil should be Unrefined (Not refined, bleached, deodorized, non-virgin).
It should be preferably organic.
The label should state expiry date, processing method, source, storage instruction etc.

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