Fats and dietary fat
In the United Kingdom, people consume too much fat. In order to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, it is wise to substitute meat fats like steak and pork with fats from oily fish, nuts, and avocados. These fats are good for your heart and they will allow you to maintain healthy weight.
Why do people need fat?
Everybody needs fat in their diet because it can be a source of energy and it helps the body absorb vitamins that are soluble in fat. These fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, E, D, and K. Fat that you get from food is important because there are some fats that can not be produced by your own body. Essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are important for forming new cells in your nervous system.
How is fat classified?
There are three main types of fat and they are classified according to their saturation. Saturation refers to the number of hydrogen atoms that are attached to the fat molecule. There are three main types of fat according to saturation and they are
- saturated fat
- monounsaturated fat
- polyunsaturated fat
What is Saturated Fat?
Saturated fat gets its name from its structure. It is completely covered with hydrogen atoms. It is the worst kind of fat and it can increase your risk of getting heart problems when you consume too much of it. Particularly, saturated fat increases your cholesterol level which eventually increases your risks of developing heart disease.
One type of saturated fat is trans fat. It can be found in margarine and cooking oils. Trans fats are very harmful. They can increase your cholesterol levels significantly. Recent efforts of the food industry were into cutting down on the use of trans fats in the production of cakes, biscuits, pastries, and margarines. There have been some food makers that have vowed to completely remove trans fats from their products already.
The largest amount of saturated fats can be found in meats, meat products, coconut oil, and in dairy products. One of the simplest ways to check whether fat is saturated is to look at it at room temperature. When the fat is hard at room temperature then the fat is likely to be saturated. Unsaturated fats are usually in liquid form at room temperature. A lot of processed foods like pastries, cakes, biscuits, and crisps have high amounts of saturated fats.
What are Polyunsaturated Fats?
Polyunsaturated fats are characterized by not being saturated with hydrogen atoms. This means that there are still several places surrounding the fat molecule where hydrogen atoms could still attach themselves. In general, polyunsaturated fats are good for your health. The most popular polyunsaturated fats are found in oily fish and these fats are known as the omega-3 fatty acids. They are beneficial to your health because they lower your blood cholesterol levels and eventually minimize your risks of developing heart disease. Moreover, you will minimize the risk of developing arthritis and other known problems with your joints.
What are some good sources of Polyunsaturated Fats?
Excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats include oily fish like mackerel, salmon, herring, trout, and sardines. Cooking oils like linseed, flaxseed, and rapeseed are also excellent sources of these fats. These cooking oils also have omega-3 fatty acids although their quality compared to those found in oily fish is still to be discovered by researchers.
According to the Food Standards Agency, women who have plans of getting pregnant or who are pregnant already should not consume more than two portions of oily fish every week because they may contain pollutants that could interfere with the proper development of the baby. Women who are pregnant or who are trying to get pregnant should also avoid eating exotic fish like swordfish, sharks, and marlin because these fish tend to have naturally occurring mercury in them. If you are a couple who has no plans of conceiving then you can eat up to four portions of oily fish every week.
What are Monounsaturated Fats?
Monounsaturated fats are not saturated with hydrogen atoms unlike the saturated fats. Their difference between polyunsaturated fats is that monounsaturated fats have only one space left for a hydrogen atom. Just like polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats play a vital role in minimizing the occurrence of heart disease.
Where can you find Monounsaturated fats?
You can find monounsaturated fats in the following foods
- olive oil
- groundnut oil
How much monounsaturated fats should you consume everyday?
Keep in mind that it is very to consume too much fat. Fat is made up of nine calories for every gram. The notation is kcal/g. This is more than twice the energy that carbohydrates or proteins provide. Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram while proteins contain three and three quarters of calories per gram.
It is recommended that the calories you burn from fat should not exceed one third of your diet. Moreover, you should not even have more than ten percent of saturated fat in your diet. This is because saturated fat is hard to break down and it also has several harmful effects on your health.
For instance, if your daily recommended calorie intake is at two thousand every day then one third is seventy four grams. You should not be consuming more than seventy four grams of fat everyday. If your daily recommended calorie intake is at one thousand and five hundred then you should not be consuming more than fifty five grams of fat.
Check the food labels on your products and find out how much fat they have. If you see that there is twenty grams of fat per one hundred grams then this is has a lot of fat. If you see that there is three grams of fat per one hundred grams then there is little fat in it. There are also food labels that provide information on the amount of saturated fat in it.
Here are some tips to keep in mind in order to keep your fat consumption under control
- instead of drinking whole milk, try substituting it with semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk
- instead of using margarine and butter, use a low fat spread
- remove the skin from chicken when you eat it
- remove the skin from the fish when you eat it
- cut down your consumption of red meat
- select the lean cuts when buying meat
- trim off the excess fat in meat
- avoid frying your food
- grill your food
- bake your food
- steam your food
- microwave your food
- choose low fat dairy products like low fat yogurt and low fat cheese
- use polyunsaturated cooking oil like rapeseed
- use monounsaturated cooking oil like olive oil
- cut down or completely avoid snacks like crisps, biscuits, pastries, and cakes