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The Key Is Choosing The Right Kind of Fats

Apr 24th, 2013

Right Kind of FatsNot all fats are the same, most of what you hear today is, “Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.” while it is true that many fats are detrimental to health, a growing body of research shows that the important consideration is the kind of fat you eat. The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial showed that eating a low-fat diet for 8 years did not prevent heart disease, breast cancer, or colon cancer, and didn’t do much for weight loss, either. What made a difference was choosing the right kind of fats, good fats (unsaturated fats) and avoiding bad fats (saturated and trans fats).

We need fat for energy and for vitamins A, D, E and K absorption. When eaten in moderation, fat is essential for good health and it’s especially important for children up to the age of two. Bad fats increase cholesterol and your risk of certain diseases. Good fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s have the opposite effect. In fact, healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, and even control your weight.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. In large research studies, men and women who ate the most unsaturated fats had the lowest mortality from heart disease. These fats are protective and come primarily from vegetable oils.

Just as you need to pay attention to the kind of fat you eat, you also need to think about how much fat you eat. Eating too much fat, even the good ones, provides excess calories. The Institute of Medicine recommends that for optimum health you keep your fat intake between 20 percent and 35 percent of total daily calories, with less than 7 percent coming from saturated fats.

According to the American Heart Association, you should use a variety of oils in food preparation, including canola, sunflower, soybean, olive, peanut, macadamia, sesame and grape seed. Stick to baking, grilling or steaming rather than deep frying.

Here are some ideas on how to minimize fats:

  • Season with herbs, spices, lemon juice, and a moderate amount of salad dressings made with pure vegetable oils.
  • Choose healthier snacks such as an apple, orange, nuts, seeds, or fresh veggies instead of typical snack foods such as chips.Nuts, olives, seeds, and avocado are good sources of healthy fat.
  • Limit your consumption of red meats such as sausages, salami, hotdogs, steak, hamburgers, and cold cuts.
  • Limit butter, gravy, and sauces made with animal or solid fats.
  • In place of butter use spreads such as hummus and nut butters, trans-fat-free margarine, and olive oil and garlic.

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