I have a question about fats. I know that there are good fats out there and bad fats, but what are they? And if I'm looking to buy oil how do I know which is the best one to buy when I am comparing labels? How much fat are we supposed to consume on a daily basis (I know that a totally fat-free diet is a no no)?
Lets dissect this question just as it is written. First off you are right there are two types of fats saturated (this includes trans fats) and unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). Saturated and trans fat are the ones you want to look out for and consume less of. That is why Trans fats made it in the marketing world and now everything is TRANS FAT FREE. Research has shown that trans fat and saturated fats are not healthy for us to consume because when they enter our body they raise LDL (bad) cholesterol; increasing our risk for heart disease.
Ways to lower our intake of saturated fats
~ Limit processed foods made with lard, palm and coconut oil
~ Baked goods made with shortening and hydrogenated oils and margarine (the hard blocks)
~ Packaged snack foods
~ Deep fried foods
Unsaturated fats are a healthier fat. Within this category of fats there are the Omega 3 fats. We (Dietitians) recommend more of your daily intake of fats come from unsaturated fats because they have heart health benefits and may improve your cholesterol levels.
Ways to increase your unsaturated fats
~ 1/4 cup of nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and flax seed)
~ Avocado and olives
~ Oils (Sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn, canola, olive and peanut)
~ Non-Hydrogenated margarine
~ Eggs, fish, lean meats and chicken without skin
~ Lower-fat milk and milk products
Reading the oil labels at the grocery store is always a head ache for me and I have boiled it down to this. The cheaper the better! hehehe...ok so maybe its not that simple. I tend to stick with canola oil; other better oils to stick with include safflower, flaxseed, sunflower, corn, olive and soybean and peanut oil. Other oils such as cottonseed, lard, palm, butter and coconut oil are ones that you want to stay away from because they are very high in saturated fat.
Here is a little chart that might help you out
On a food item to find out if its a "lower fat" product you want to check the % Daily value (DV). The %DV shows if there is a little or a lot of a nutrient in the product you are looking at. If % DV for fat is 5% or less it is a low-fat choice and for the saturated and trans fat together you want the % DV to be 10% or less.
Fat free diets are a NO NO because fats are important for normal body function; they also provide energy, add taste and texture, make us feel fuller longer and help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K). Fat should account for 20-35% of your daily energy (calorie) intake.
Women 19-74 years old consuming 1800-2000 calories a day should consume between 40-75 grams of fat a day. Which is equivalent to 8-15 tsp (40-75 ml)
Men 19-74 years old consuming 2300-3000 calories a day should consume between 50-115 grams of fat a day. Which is equivalent to 10-23 tsp (50-115ml)
**Remember this is an approximation so keep in mind your own needs may differ.
To put these numbers into prospective lets compare fat contents of some foods
Bagel with 1 Tbsp cream cheese 6 g
Croissant 12 g
Doughnut, chocolate coated 18g
The one thing to remember is that Fat is Fat and no matter if its good fat or bad fat it is still adding calories into your diet. Be sure to consume fats in moderation; this can be easily done by following Canada food guide portion sizes.
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- The National Academy of Sciences. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids, 2002.
- Health Canada. Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods, 1999