Nutrition Wednesday: Fats

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Everyone has heard of fats in foods and there are a bazillion jillion diets out there that will tell you that fat is the devil. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not! It’s not always… anyway. The fatty foods you think of, often called comfort foods, are bad if eaten in excess, but the fats found in vegetables like avocado, are good to consume. Whether considered a good fat or a bad fat, you still must consume either in moderation. Good fats consumed in excess are still fats and cause weight gain. If your head is spinning trying to figure out what the heck constitutes a good versus a bad source of fat, don’t worry! You just need to remember to avoid saturated and trans fatty acids at all costs! These are the culprits that cause a lot of the diseases associated with consuming fats (like heart disease, which is the biggest US killer). So, as always, let me provide you with some tips to keep those pesky fats away.

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  • First, you can tell if a fat is saturated or a trans fat if it is solid or more solid at room temperature. For instance, coconut oil is solid at room temperature (thus it has a lot of saturated fat – avoid this even though many health sources say it’s a good source of fat) and olive oil is liquid at room temperature (monounsaturated fat – which is really good for you in moderation!).
  • Second, vegetable and fish oils are rich in polyunsaturated fats (good for you) and some veggie oils are sources of monounsaturated oils (also good for you).
  • Animal fats tend to be the most saturated, but other fats can be just as bad
  • There is no solid evidence backing coconut oil “curative powers” – aka avoid it
  • Avoid palm oil, shortenings, and stick margarine too. Just because it says vegetable fat doesn’t mean it’s healthy or contains unsaturated fat.
  • If you consume saturated fats and drink alcohol, the body will process and excrete the alcohol, as it is seen as a toxin, and store the fat. It cannot get rid of both at the same time so the body prioritizes the toxin (or poison) and keeps the fat. This is partially why you gain weight when you drink. (this is not saying that if you don’t consume saturated fats that you will not gain weight from drinking and your body won’t store other fat)
  • Avoid added sugars and refined carbohydrates
  • Do not eat the fat on meats… you are what you eat!
  • Drink 1% milk (unless you have to drink another kind for medical purposes)
  • Make sure you get omega – 6 and omega – 3 fatty acids in your diet. Sources include seeds, nuts, some oils, and seafood!
  • Not all seafood is created equal. Seabass and salmon are really good sources of omega – 3 fatty acids.
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil is bad news. It takes out nutrients. DO NOT CONSUME!
  • If you read the label of a packaged food item, the first ingredient is what makes up the highest percentage of the product, and so forth. Thus, if the second or third ingredient is sugar, then the product contains a TON of sugar. You would want to avoid that!

I hope some of these tips help you in leading a healthier life style! Remember, there are essential fats that we all need, so please don’t go on a diet that allows no fat. That is completely unhealthy!

Please note that I am *not* a nutritionist or nutrition expert, this is information based on my own knowledge and experience that I took away from the book Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Sizer and Whitney. Please consult a doctor before starting any nutrition routine or prescribing to any diet. 

What is your favorite essential or healthy fat?

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