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Your 4 Fats

Who out there gets confused by fat? There is healthy fat, unhealthy fat…fat that clogs your arteries and fat that helps you retain nutrients from veggies better.

A low fat diet means you get approx 20% of your calories from fat but which of the fats should you be eating? It’s so frickin confusing! So here is a quick breakdown of the 4 fats; hopefully it helps clear up your confusion. 🙂

Fatty acids (the building blocks for fat) are divided in to 3 chemical classes according to their hydrogen content: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

Saturated Fatty Acids

-these are what raise your bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins – LDL)

-are found for the most part in meats and dairy products (many of these foods also contain cholesterol)

-found in plant based products that include palm and coconut oils and cocoa butter

-limit your saturated fat intake to less than 10% of your total calories per day

-the less of these you eat the better

-to cut down on them go easy on: beef, veal, lamb, pork, beef and poultry fat, butter, cream, whole milk, cheeses and other dairy products made from whole milk

Polyunsaturated Fats

-are considered essential (they can’t be manufactured in your body-you must ingest them)

-vital to the maintenance of cell membranes

-vital for the manufacturing of potent chemical messengers that regulate everything from blood pressure to the firing of nerves

-when they are in short supply in your body the body compensates by using other types of fatty acids, cell membranes will become more rigid, leading to progressive hardening of the arterial walls (ugh)

-polyunsaturated fats should make up 10% or less of your total daily calories

-considered good fats

-usually found in the liquid oils that come from veggies

-common sources are sesame, sunflower and safflower oils, sunflower seeds, corn and soybeans and their oils

-there is another type of polyunsaturated fats called omega-3 fatty acids – they are found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout) and in canola oil and flaxseed – these help maintain and protect your heart, blood vessels and brain function – eat fish 2 times a week to supply yourself with the right amount of omega-3

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

-from avocados, olive canola and peanut oils, and from nuts

-good for the heart

-help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels

-if your good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein – HDL) is low (35 or less) add a daily serving or two of canola oil, olive oil, nuts, avocado or fatty fish – also subtract a serving or two of sweets or refined bread, pasta, crackers or cereal

-should make up about 15% of your total calories

Trans Fat

-eliminate entirely

-also called partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

-trans fats are formed during a process called hydrogenation which transforms liquid oil into shelf stable solid fat (sounds pleasant! lol)

-they clog arteries

-found in many packaged foods (cookies, crackers, snacks and other processed foods)

 -elevates bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol, increases risk of heart disease

-some scientists believe trans fats also are implicated in obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health issues

-Canada and other countries have laws severly restricting the use of trans fats but they can still crop up in your food at restaurants etc so keep an eye out

Disclaimer: I am learning about all this food stuff same as you – the information above is from a book called Diet Myths that Keep Us Fat by Nancy L Snyderman, M.D. It is a great book I highly recommend. 😀 I got my copy from the library and will be very sad when I have to give it back.

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