Tag Archives: trans fats

Fats, Fats, & More Fats–The Real Scoop on Fats

29 Sep

I know what you’re thinking…how in the world can fats be healthy?  Well believe it or  not some fat in our diet is actually good for us, but it has to be the right types of fat.  Ready for a 10 second lesson in nutrition? Okay, well maybe a little longer than 10 seconds…

There are five types of fat: Saturated fat, hydrogenated fat (includes partially hydrogenated fats), polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and trans fatty acids.  They’re scary words I know, but I’ll break them down into lay person’s terms and explain how they affect your body, where you find them and which to avoid and keep in your diet!  Let’s go!!

First let’s talk about the wholly bad, which should be avoided at all costs…

Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated Fats: during food processing, some fats go through a chemical alteration know in the industry as hydrogenation.  Hydrogenation is basically where hydrogen is chemically injected into the fat oils at high temperatures.  Food companies add hydrogenated fats to foods to make them more stable in order to increase their shelf lives.  A twinkie’s shelf life is reported to be 27 years!  That’s ridiculous! And probably an urban myth, Hostess (the makers of Twinkies) say the shelf life is more around 25 days, but others say they’ve seen Twinkies that are 25 years old and could very possibly still be eaten!  Hydrogenated oils are proven to raise levels of your LDL cholesterol (the bad type!) and leads to an increased risk

Trans fatty acids: Also know as trans fats has finally been shown to the majority of the public as being public enemy#1 and with good reason!  Trans fats are created through the hydrogenation process that I talked about above. Trans fats are used to make overly processed food taste yummier. Which is why you can never just have one bite, it’s so unnatural tasting that it makes our taste buds go haywire!

It is recommended to either eliminate trans fats completely from your diet, or limit it to no more than 1% of daily intake.  It’s great to finally see food manufactures being required to say how much of the trans fats are in their food. But be warned, they can legally put “0 trans fats” on their labels if they have less than .5g per serving. Which means since hardly anyone ever eats just one serving (another problem associated with overeating) and you are still ingesting trans fats!

Now let’s talk about one that is okay in moderation if you’re fairly healthy:

Saturated Fat: saturated fat is mostly found in animals and animal by-products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc). Therefore it’s naturally occurring and our bodies do need the other nutrients that these animals and animal by-products provide!

This means it’s not horrible for you IF you limit it in your diet. BUT red meat is the most often eaten food in America, and consequently saturated fats are the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol.  You can avoid over consumption of saturated fats by drinking skim milk (or 1% or soy), eating low-fat dairy products, also limiting red meat.  I want to pause momentarily to derail to eggs.  Eggs are a great source of nutrition!!!  The yolk has been vilified in the past and is finally being redeemed, unless you  need to watch your intake of cholesterol, eggs are a great way to start your breakfast! Just remember everything in moderation!  Animal & their by-products help with cell function, brain and nervous system function, contain fat-soluble vitamins, and helps strong bones just to name a few!

Some plants contain saturated fats, such as coconut, coconut oils, palm oil, palm kernel oil, vegetable oil, and cocoa butter. So just make sure you watch how much of these products you use.

Now for the healthiest of fats (and the ones you shouldn’t cut out of your diet!) DRUMROLL PLEASE…

Poly & mono unsaturated fats: now I won’t get hung up on the chemical differences between mono & poly and instead, I’ll focus on the fact that they’re both heart healthy and GOOD for you! It is considered the best type of fat you can consume. They are found mainly in fish, nuts, seeds and oil from plants.  They may help to lower blood cholesterol when using them in place of saturated or trans-fats options.

For example, olive oil is a great thing to cook with and use in your food.  Just note that olive oil (I always use extra virgin olive oil or EVOO) has a lower cooking temp than vegetable oil, which means it will heat up faster than other oils, just beware when cooking!

So here’s the bottom line for you who don’t want to read the whole thing.  AVOID AT ALL COSTS: hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated fats, trans fats (check the ingredients label for these, yes you do need to start reading the ingredients label).  EAT IN MODERATION: saturated fats. Especially if you have high cholesterol or heart problems, try to limit to one or two times per week.  GOOD FOR YOU: poly & mono unsaturated fats!  Things like EVOO are good for you and have health benefits, but like everything, they need to be consumed in moderation.  You can’t just eat EVOO all day, that wouldd be a. gross and b. not good for you!

The lesson of the day is, moderation, moderation, moderation! Unless they’re trans fats or hydrogenated then put it back on that shelf or throw it out of your pantry! Hope that helps!

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