Fats, the old enemy!

Hi!  Yesterday, we chatted about protein.  Today, let’s give a shout out to fats!

Fats were once hated by the general population.  Perhaps you remember that whole low-fat craze where fat was removed from almost everything, often being replaced by sugar or sugar substitutes.

But do you know why sugar was added to all the fat-free foods?

Because fat makes food taste good. Without it, processed food producers needed something to make people want to eat their foods.  Sugar was the answer.

Fats not only taste good, but they increase satiety.  You’ll feel more satisfied after eating foods with fats than foods without.

Fats got a bad rep back in the 80s and 90s.  However, the current school of thought is that fat is not the enemy of good nutrition as once believed.

Why do we want fat in our diets?

  • First, fat is a part of every single cell in your body as it is needed to build cell membranes.
  • Fat insulates your nervous system and forms a protective layer around vital organs.
  • Some vitamins (A,D,E, & K) and minerals are fat-soluble.  These vitamins need fat in order to properly absorb into our bodies for our cells to use.
  • And of course, fats are used as energy for your body.

We all need good fats in our diet, but children especially need them for their fast-growing brains.

Hold on, did you catch that?

We need GOOD fats.  Yes, not all fats are created equal.

There are three types of fats:  unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats.

Let’s start with the GOOD:  Unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature.  There are two types of unsaturated fats:  monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fat sources include olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, high-oleic safflower oil, nuts, and (my personal favorite) avocados.

Polyunsaturated oils include Omega-3 & Omega-6 and have been shown to have several benefits, including lowering your LDL cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and more.  Sources of polyunsaturated fats include corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, fish oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies), flaxseeds, and walnuts.

On to the “bad”:  Saturated fats.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.  I hesitate to call them bad, mostly because I have a high affinity for bacon grease. 🙂  However, most health experts currently suggest limiting saturated fats in your diet.  Sources include red meat, dairy, coconut oil, palm oil, butter, lard, shortening, and ahem, bacon grease.

And finally, the UGLY, and it is really ugly, y’all: trans fats also known as partially hydrogenated oils.

Trans fats are man-made fats produced by hydrogenating a liquid oil to create a solid substance that has a longer shelf-life.  They are used in processed foods and appear in everything from margarine to fried foods to bakery items.  Trans fats increase cholesterol and create inflammation in the body.

According to experts, there is NO safe level of consumption. In the US, companies will not be allowed to add these to foods by the year 2018 per FDA regulations.

The bottom line here is that if you pick up an item that has partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list, please throw that item across the room and run away.  Or calmly discard the item.  Whichever you prefer.

And that pretty much sums up fats.

The takeaway is to steer clear of trans fats and to include more avocados, nuts, olive oil, fatty fish, and flaxseed in your diet in lieu of bacon grease… Well, that’s my takeaway at least.  🙂

On a serious note, many health professionals suggest choosing low-fat dairy options to limit intake of saturated fats. In my personal life, I have found that using full-fat dairy tastes much better.  You know I think food should be tasty! Also, full-fat dairy keeps me satisfied longer.  I feel comfortable using full-fat dairy products in moderation.  I’m not the only one who feels that full-fat dairy products are still a good option, even with a higher saturated fat content.  If you are interested in a little more research about the virtues of whole fat dairy, click here.

Next up will be a little primer on carbohydrates.  In the meantime, Happy Hump Day!


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