Tag: healthy fats

Quit Shunning the Fat!

Have you ever sat back and pondered why it is that with all the low fat and zero fat products we can find stocked in our grocery store aisles today, we have an ever increasing problem with obesity? You can visit any of the weight loss social media sites and find people who are making it a point to eat low to zero fat, yet they are having an almost impossible time in achieving their weight loss goals.

This could be seen as quite the irony, right?

Except it is not an irony in any way shape or form.

Dietary fats are not nearly the boogeyman they have been portrayed to be over the past few decades. This is because not all fats are created equal. Some fats are better for you than others, and even help to promote good health. Knowing the difference between your fats can help you determine which fats to include in your diet, which to avoid, and which to eat only in moderation. We know that the “bad” fats such as artificial trans fats and saturated fats, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for—weight gain, clogged arteries, an increased risk of certain diseases and so forth. But “good” fats such as unsaturated fats and omega-3s have the opposite effect. Good fats should always be a part of a healthy diet. Fat is as essential to your diet as protein and carbohydrates are in fueling your body with energy. Certain bodily functions also rely on the presence of fat. For example, some vitamins require fat in order to dissolve into your bloodstream and provide nutrients.

First, what are the “bad” fats?

There are two types of fats which have been identified as potentially harmful to your health, saturated fat and trans fat . Most of the foods that contain saturated fats should be eaten very sparingly. These are foods where the fats are solid at room temperature, such as:

butter

margarine

shortening

beef or pork fat

Trans fat should be avoided altogether! Trans fat is short for “trans fatty acids,” this bad fat can be found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the worst fats for you. You might find trans fat in:

fried foods (French fries, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods)

margarine (stick and tub)

vegetable shortening

baked goods (cookies, cakes, pastries)

processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn)

Like saturated fat, trans fat can raise LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol. Trans fat can also suppress high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, or “good” cholesterol.  Trans fats are also known to increase the risk for inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation can cause harmful health effects that may include heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. If you like margarine on your foods, remember they will contain trans fats if they are made with hydrogenated ingredients, so make sure to always choose non-hydrogenated versions.

Labeling laws allow food companies to round down to zero and claim “no trans fats” or “zero grams of trans fats” despite still containing hydrogenated oils, so ignore the front-of-package marketing and always read the ingredient list.

What started this low to no fat craze?

If you want to trace Americans’ fear of fat, the place to start is the U.S. Senate, during the steamy days of July 1976. That’s when Sen. George McGovern called a hearing to raise attention to the links between diet and disease. The concern was the connection between diet and heart disease. Scientists had evidence that foods with saturated fat such as eggs and meat could raise LDL cholesterol. But there were a lot of complexities that scientists didn’t yet understand, and not a lot of data. When Sen. McGovern, a Democrat from South Dakota, called his hearing, he summoned the likes of Nathan Pritikin, a longevity guru who believed you could reverse heart disease with diet changes. And he called as a witness a Harvard University professor who pointed to the harms of over-consumption of fat. The hearing led to the creation of the first set of dietary guidelines for Americans.

The thinking of the day is that you wanted to reduce fat from your diet. Once fat was identified as being an unhealthy part of the American diet, the thinking was that any way Americans could get fat out of their diets would be a good thing. And this was accomplished by merely replacing milk and cheese and fatty meat with carbohydrates, with pasta and potatoes and rice.  The misguided theory was that we would live longer, and be thinner if we took this action.

 One of the top goals listed in the original dietary goals was to eat more carbs.

The types of carbs the authors of the guidelines had in mind were whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But this message was lost in translation. What did Americans hear? Fat is bad; carbs are good. And the food industry saw the low-fat, high-carb mantra as an opportunity to create a whole new range of products. Fat-free frozen yogurt, fat-free muffins and cookies became quite common everywhere we shop. The formula was: Take out the fat and then add lots of sugar to make up for the now bland tastes of low to zero fat foods. Now, we are fatter than we have ever been as a society. There were definitely unintended consequences of the original guidelines. In trying to address one problem — heart disease — by cutting way back on fat,  the new dietary goals have helped fuel other problems such as diabetes and obesity.

Fats you should be consuming in your diet!

The  helpful types of dietary fat are primarily unsaturated fats:

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids. This type of fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids. This type of fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial for heart health. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it hasn’t yet been determined whether replacements for fish oil — plant-based or krill — have the same health effects as omega-3 fatty acid from fish.

Foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts and chia seeds).

How can I start eating healthier?

Focus on replacing foods high in saturated fat with foods that include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Try these tips to make over the fat in your diet:

  • To avoid trans fat, check food labels and look for the amount of trans fat listed. By law a serving of food containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fat can be labeled as 0 grams. Therefore, it’s important to also check ingredient lists for the term ʺpartially hydrogenated.֞
  • Use oil instead of solid fats. For example, saute with olive oil instead of butter, and use canola oil when baking.
  • Prepare fish, such as salmon and mackerel, instead of meat at least twice a week to get healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Bake or broil seafood instead of frying it.
  • Choose lean meat and skinless poultry. Trim visible fat from meat and poultry, and remove skin from poultry.
  • Snack smart. Many popular processed snack foods are high in fat, especially solid fats. Be sure to check food labels for saturated and trans fats. Better yet, snack on whole fruits and vegetables.

 Be aware and mindful that most foods contain a mix of different kinds of fat and varying levels of each type. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Instead, focus on choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats, instead of foods that contain saturated or trans fats. For example, canola oil contains some saturated fat but is mostly a monounsaturated fat. It’s a great replacement for butter, which contains some unsaturated fat but is mostly a saturated fat.

What we now know!

We now know that, for most people, cutting fat from our diets has failed to help many people in weight loss, nor has this reduced our risk of heart disease. An eight-year trial involving almost 50,000 women, roughly half of whom went on a low-fat diet, found that those on the low-fat plan didn’t lower their risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or heart disease. Additionally, they didn’t lose much weight either.

We know that excess sugar has been linked with weight gain and obesity. A systematic review of 50 years of studies published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition in 2006 found a link between the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages people consumed and weight gain and obesity. The science base linking the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to the risk of chronic diseases is clear, yet here we are today with sugar in every damn thing we eat if we are not mindful of our nutrition.

Healthy fats, like those from nuts, fish, and avocados, are good for us, so long as we eat them in moderation. So add them back into your diet if you haven’t already, and look to cut back on your intake of refined carbs and sugary snack foods instead. You will find that healthier food choices that contain beneficial fats will not only taste much better, but you will also notice that you will remain satiated far longer after a meal or snack when you consume them.

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Fat and Why We Need It

Several years ago the word was put out that since fats were more than twice as calorically dense in calories as carbs and proteins, they were the evil culprits that were driving the new epedemic of obesity. Since carbs and proteins only have four calories per gram and fats contain nine calories per gram, then it should be only obvious that we should begin eating a low fat or even zero fat diet to fight the battle of the bulging waist lines.

Now, here we are in 2019 with an over abundance of low fat and fat free products available to us and people are fatter than we have ever been in history. Is it possible that such a simple concept that fats are making us fat was too simplistic and totally wrong? You bet your bottom dollar that simplistic thinking has driven our nation, and others to a point where the populations of obese or over weight individuals is rapidly surpassing the populations of people at healthy body fat levels. Listen up, eating fats is not your sole problem if you are obese. Your problem is from eating added simple sugars in damn near everything on the shelves in our grocery stores, and you are eating far too many calories for your activity level. All that aded sugar does not keep your appetite satiated. To the contrary, that sugar drives you to wanting to eat more all the time. If you look at the ingredient labels of the foods you consume regularly, you will find that even if you are not one to munch on sweet treats all the time, you can still be consuming as much sugar in your processed foods as if you are feeding a sweet tooth. Simple sugars spike your insulin and blood sugar levels. Simple sugars create inflammation in your body and are largely responsible for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease and even cancers. The difference between simple sugars, or simple carbs in your diet and complex carbs, is simple carbs with the exception of fruit, do not come with a fiber component which slows, and controls the absortion of sugar into your bloodstream. Again, fats are not the sole cause of your weight problems, your problem is that you are eating too many simple carbs and too many calories. The bad thing that happened with the low fat and fat free craze is that we also cut out healthy fats as we increased the amounts of sugar in our foods in order to make them taste better without fat.

Your weight loss , or management truly is a matter of calories in verses calories expended. You can go to our Calorie Calulator in our menu to find out just how many calories your body requires based on your Basal Metabolic Rate. Simply enter your personal information; age, gender, weight, activity level and the rate of loss you would desire or the amount of calories you need for maintenance. All of this information is entirely private and you can get even get your report emailed to you or you can download it as a PDF file on your computer. No one, not even myself as an administrator will ever know your personal information, it is entirely safe.

What are fats and why do you need them?

Contrary to popular myth, fats are not something that just automatically search out and then cling to your own body fat cells after you have consumed them. The consumption of healthy fats are not going to clog your arteries nor will they cause your cholesterol to rise. The consumption of healthy fats is neccesary as they are a major source of energy. They help your body to absorb vitamins and minerals. They are needed in order for your body to build cell membranes which are the vital exterior of each cell. Fats are essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. Of course, for long term health, some fats are better than others. For example, industrial made trans fats are not any good for you, and some saturated fats are not the best for you either, but do not pose too many problems as long as you are maintaining a healthy body fat percentage by not consuming more calories than you need. (1)

We know trans fats are obviously bad, but what about saturated fats?

A diet rich in saturated fats has been linked to high total cholesterol, with an emphasis on the bad LDL which can cause blockages to occur in arteries and elsewhere in the body. For this reason, most nutritionist recommend not exceeding ten percent of your daily calories from saturated fats. Common sources of saturated fats include red meat, whole milk and other whole dairy foods, cheese, coconut oil and many commercial baked goods and other foods. The key to maintaining good health when consuming foods that contain saturated fats is to use moderation. Of course, moderations is key to everything when it comes to maintaining good health. You will find saturatedfats to be solid at room temperature.

Trans fats are bad, saturated fats should be consumed in moderation. What fats should we be eating?

You want to be consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for good health. These healthy fats come from vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. They differ from saturated fats as they are liquid at room temperature. When you hear someone who has deemed themselves a nutritional expert, raising a fuss about how fattening the dressing that you are pouring over your salad might be, check your ingredients. If the dressing contains olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocado, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils, politely go on about your business and educate them on how these monounsaturated fats are healthy to eat. These fats are beneficial and no you would not be better off to just go ahead and eat a Mickey D’s value meal. News flash, healthy fats poured over a nutritious salad is a excellent choice of food. It is the sugar laden fat free dressings that are crap for your diet. People in Mediterranean countries are known to eat diets high in monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, and they also have a low rate of heart disease.

When we pour cooking oils into a pan, the odds are that you are using a polyunsaturated fat. Corn oil, sunflower oil and safflower oils are common examples.

Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. They are required for normal body functions, yet your body does not produce them. You must get these fats from food sources. Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement and inflammation. (1)

There are two main types of polynsaturated fats: omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids Both types offer up health benefits as the the consumption of them in place of saturated fats or highly refined carbohydrates reduces harmful LDL cholesterol and improves your cholesterol profile while also lowering triglycerides. Good sources of omega 3 fatt acids include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines as well as flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil and unhydrogenated soybean oil (1)

Omega 3 fatty acids may help prevent and even treat heart disease and stroke. In addition to reducing blood pressure, raising HDL, and lowering triglycerides. It has been found that polyunsaturated fats may help prevent lethal heart rythms from arising (1) and also may help reduce the need for corticosteroid medications in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Omega 3’s are also linked to reucing the risk of dementia according to studies.

Omega 6 fatty acids have been liked to protection against heart disease. Foods rich in linoleic acid and other omega 6 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower walnut and corn oils.

But fried foods are horrible for us, right?

Yes and no. There are a few things to consider with fried foods. If they are good or bad is dependent on what kind of fat you are using and how much. If you are using a small amount of a healthy fat to cook or sear a food in a skillet, then you are going to be just fine. If you are frying in lard or bacon grease and breading the food, then you are not making such a healthy choice.

Also bear in mind your total caloric intake. Fats are 120 calories per tablespoon. You can use a small amount of a healthy oil to cook with while not ramping up your total calories too badly. However, if you bread a food and use a lot of oil, then you can easily find yourself exceeding your caloric needs for the day as the breading can soak up a lot of oil.

Let’s say you are using olive oil, your problem at this point is not the type of oil, your issue is the amount may cause you to exceed your caloric needs which can promote obesity. One pound of body fat equals 3500 calories. If you reduce your daily calories by 500 below what your basal metabolic rate requires to maintain your body fat, then you will lose 1 pound of body fat in a week. If you exceed your daily caloric needs by 500 per day, you can expect that you will gain 1 pound of body fat in a week. This is why it is critical if you are interested in losing or maintaining your level of body fat, that you track everything you consume. Too many calories will make you fat, and just because grams of fat are higher in calories than grams of carbs and protein, it does not mean you should skip the fat. No, you need to eat in moderation and be aware of everything that passes your lips.

(1) Harvard Health