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Fats — What You Need To Know

During the 90’s it was all about no-fat or low fat.The millennium ushered in a bunch of new names, for fat. ·Saturated

  • Unsaturated
  • Heart healthy
  • Good fat
  • Bad fat
  • Essential fatty acids (EFAs)
  • Omega 3
  • Omega 6

Fat got a bad reputation in the 90’s and we now need to unlearn all the bad things we heard about fats.

If it wasn’t for fats,

  • Our cells would have no membranes
  • There would be no shape to our cells
  • Nutrients could not move in or our of our cells
  • Fat soluble vitamins could not be absorbed
  • Cholesterol would go unregulated
  • Our bodies wouldn’t have protection from the cold

There are 3 types of fats:

  • Saturated fats typically are solid at room temperature.These types of fats don’t break down in the body.Our body doesn’t know what to do with these types of fats and puts them into fat storage.On the way to storage, these fats, float through the blood stream leaving behind a waxy coating, plaque, on the arteries.You guessed it. An eating program that is high in saturated fats, can significantly contribute to heart disease and blood pressure problems.
    • Examples:
      • Palm and palm kernel oils
      • Fast food or processed foods
      • Meat, poultry, and dairy products
  • Unsaturated fats come in 2 categories
    • Mono at the molecular level these fats have a double bond to attached to carbon.These fats remain liquid at low temperatures, eaten in moderation can help reduce the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
      • Examples
        • Olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil
    • Poly at the molecular level these fats have more than one double bond attached to carbon.
      • Examples
        • Corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are needed to help our bodies to run correctly.These fats should be included in a healthy eating program.Our bodies cannot produce these fats, so we must rely on food. Most often EFAs are referred to as:
    • Omega 6 is best known to:
      • Lower blood cholesterol
      • Assist with skin disorders
        • Good sources include:

·Oils from sunflower, safflower, corn, sesame, poppy, wheat germ, soybean and walnut ·Wheat germ ·Vegetables ·Sunflower, sesame, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts ·Grains ·Legumes

  • Omega 3 is known for its:
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • May help prevent heart disease
  • Thins the blood
  • Trans fats were invented by the food industry to increase the shelf life and taste of food.By adding one hydrogen molecule to vegetable oil, a relatively healthy fat and transforms it into artery clogging fat.When you read your food labels and see anything that uses the word hydrogenation that is a signal that it’s a made with trans fats.
    • Why does this matter’The body processes trans fats like a saturated fats.Trans fats can also contribute to increase cholesterol levels and heart problems.

Effective January 1, 2006 all foods containing trans fats must list them separately on food labels.Why does this mean’

For the first time consumers will know what amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats are contained within the foods they eat.This will also give you the information you need to make informed decisions to help reduce your risks of heart problems through a healthy eating program.Did you know that some of your favorite protein bars, shakes, and supplements could contain high amounts of these’If a product includes more than .5 grams of trans fat they will be required to remove it or list on the label.Source of fats.[ii]


There is good news!Fats are a great source of energy and begin to burn after the carbohydrate supply has been exhausted.To maintain a healthy eating program the average adult should plan get 20-22% of their calories from fats.Fats are 9 calories/gram.If you would like to understand how much fat you should be having in your healthy eating plan, please email me.Simple tips to manage fats in your healthy eating plan:

  • Limit eating fried food
  • When eating out ask, if your meal can be prepared without oil or ask what types of oils do they cook with
  • Read labels and limit foods with a trans fats and high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol
  • Rule of thumb anything over 5% of daily values should be avoided
  • Choose lean quality meats
  • When cooking substitute alternative fats whenever possible
  • Adding flax seed oil to oatmeal
  • Cook with olive or canola oils
  • Instead of butter or margarine try different spices to flavor your vegetables
  • Remove skin from poultry
  • Increase fish consumption aim for 2 – 3 times/week

Tomorrow’s topic will be reading food labels


[i]Flaxseed oil is highly perishable. Please keep it refrigerated and use within 30 days of opening.

[ii] Source FDA Consumer Magazine


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