SHOULD I FOLLOW A LOW FAT DIET?
Research has now found that low fat diets do NOT improve the odds of preventing disease or losing weight. More important is the type of fat in your diet.
WHY DO WE NEED FAT IN OUR DIET?Fats keep us healthy. Fats help maintain healthy skin and hair. Without fat you could not transport vitamins A, D, E, and K through your bloodstream. Fats also help regulate blood cholesterol levels and support hormones that help us sleep better and control blood pressure, inflammation and other body functions. Research is also suggesting that consuming full fat dairy products vs. their fat-free counterparts may help with weight loss.
TYPES OF FATS
Trans FatTrans fat is an artificial fat that is most commonly added to processed foods in order to keep them from spoiling. Trans fats are proven to be very bad for your health. They will decrease your good cholesterol and increase your bad cholesterol. Trans fats increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
FINDING TRANS FAT
To find out if a product has trans fats, look on the ingredient listing. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” anywhere on the ingredient listing, it will contain trans fat, even if the nutrition facts say it has 0 grams of trans fat. By law, products can contain up to .5 grams before it must declared on the nutrition facts label. Even those small amounts can add up in a hurry. It is best to avoid trans fats entirely. It tends to show up in commercially baked goods, packaged snack foods, fried foods, and pre-mixes like cake and pancake mix.
Saturated FatsSaturated fat is found in meats, poultry, fish, coconut oils, dairy products, pizza, French fries and many other foods. The jury is still out whether all saturated fats are bad fats or good fats. However, there is consensus that the type of saturated fat in processed foods such as hot dogs, fries and cold cuts is linked to coronary disease and cancer. The story on saturated fats such as coconut oil, palm oil and what is found in fresh meat, poultry, and fish isn’t clear.
TIPS TO LIMIT POOR SOURCES OF SATURATED FAT
- Vary your diet to include chicken, eggs, fish and vegetarian sources of protein so you are not just consuming red meat and pork.
- Roast, grill or slow cook meat and poultry instead of frying.
- Choose organic and grass-fed beef when possible.
- Choose full fat dairy like butter, milk, and yogurt. Research has linked these to less body fat.
- Try to avoid breaded and fried meats.
- Try to avoid processed meats, packaged meals and takeout food.
Unsaturated FatsUnsaturated fats are healthy fats. They consist of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, both of which can improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. These fats may also help keep blood sugar in check and stabilize insulin levels.
- Nuts (Almonds, Peanuts, Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans and Cashews)
- Natural Peanut Butter (Containing just peanuts and salt)
- Sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Herring, Trout and Sardines)
- Soy Milk and Tofu (Non-GMO sources recommended)
BEST OILSCold-pressed oils such as extra virgin olive oil, peanut oil and sesame oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and have been used for hundreds of years. These are made without the use of chemicals or heat to extract the oil from seed or nuts. Cold pressed oils maintain all of their flavor, aroma and nutritional value.
While not proven to be dangerous, processed oils such as soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, and safflower oil need heat and solvents to extract the oil. If you decide to choose these oils, look for cold pressed and organic.
The Balance Of Omega-6 to Omega-3
The typical American diet tends to contain 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids due to processed foods. That creates inflammation in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in combating heart disease, fighting inflammation in the body and decreasing the risk of chronic disease.
To achieve a better ratio, bump up your omega-3 fatty acid consumption with the following foods:
EPA and DHATwo types of fatty acids that are found in cold-water fatty fish.
- Algae, Seaweed
- Pole and line-caught tuna
- Lake trout
ALAA type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plant sources.
- Brussels Sprouts
You can always supplement with a high quality omega-3 supplement like fish oil. Make sure they are mercury-free, pharmaceutical grade, independently tested and molecularly distilled. Read the label and make sure you get at least 600 mg of EPA plus DHA per day. Ask your Price Chopper pharmacist to help you select the best option for you.