Cutting Fat Wisely
Fat in the diet has always been looked at with scorn. We’re so used to being told that fat is bad for us; that the idea that it is actually good is difficult to digest. But hold on! There's good fats.. and there’s bad fats. It’s the good fat that's good for us. Now what’s this good and bad fat? What's good about fat, you may ask!
Quality matters just as much as quantity when it comes to consuming fats. Diets with a higher percentage of fats - if they are the good sort - can actually be better for you than their low-fat counterparts, according to a report issued by the American Heart Association (AHA).
Let’s look at dietary fat in little detail. There’s saturated fat and unsaturated fat. More on saturated fat later but for now let’s assume that it’s the fat that everyone tells you to stay away from. Besides other health problems, it can sabotage a weight loss program. It's easy to understand why. At nine calories per gram, it packs more than twice the calories of carbohydrate and protein.
But wait! It’s wrong to equate only dietary fat with body fat. You can get fat by eating excess carbohydrates and protein too. Excess calories from any source is responsible for weight gain.
And worse than the saturated fat found naturally in meat, butter, cream, ice cream and other animal and dairy products, is the man-made Trans Fat. Trans Fat is found in margarine, packaged food, pastries, fries, fast food and all bakery products. It’s a trend today to buy packaged foods, so read labels carefully to find foods you like that are low in Trans Fat.
Harmful Effects of Trans Fats
Harmful Effects of Trans Fats
Trans fat is a cholesterol raising, heart weakening, diabetes causing, belly building chemical.
It raises LDL and lowers HDL. Also raises blood levels of other lipoproteins. The more lipoproteins in your blood greater the risk of heart diseases.The higher up on the ingredient list partially hydrogenated veg oils is, the worse food it is for you
Saturated Vs. Unsaturated Fat
Benefits of MUFA
It helps lower LDL cholesterol, the kind that can build up in arterial walls and increase your risk of heart attack.
Lowers blood pressure, improves blood clotting and normalizes blood insulin levels
Lowering carbohydrate intake and eating more MUFA foods is said to cut abdominal fat
Developers of the Flat Belly Diet suggest eating MUFA at every meal. MUFA targets belly fat. It helps control satiety
But you still have to consume limited amounts of this healthy fat to avoid adding too many calories to the diet.
It supplies Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Our bodies are incapable of producing EFAs so it has to derive them from food. EFAs include linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are required to support growth and reproduction. The retina and nerves need ALA. An adequate supply of EFAs is a basic dietary requirement.
Effect of EFA Deficiency in Animals
Reproduction fails in males. Females may become pregnant but frequently miscarry and rarely carry a litter to term
Wounds don’t heal because of failure of formation of connective tissue
Normal growth fails to occur
All body membranes become exceptionally permeable. Skin loses its ability to prevent passage of water. Large amounts of water are lost across the skin, the animal is thirsty but the urine is concentrated.
Kidneys hypertrophy and are prone to hemorrhage and renal failure
Liver undergoes fatty degeneration
Immune system is defective and there is susceptibility to infection
Omega 3 Vs. Omega6 fats
But not all PUFAs are created equal. It is of two types – Omega 3 and Omega6. Simply replacing dietary saturated fats with polyunsaturated fatty acids might not be enough to lower the risk of heart disease. To obtain the heart benefits of PUFA, the emphasis should be on alpha linoleic acid, an Omega-3 fatty acid, and not on linoleic acid, which is an Omega-6 fatty acid.
The critical factor in any diet is the balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Balance of Omega-6 to Omega 3 in the ratio of 3:1 is important to reduce inflammation, risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-6 fats are naturally found in all vegetables. So it is unhealthy to cook in sunflower, safflower and other vegetable oils.
Omega-3 fatty acids come in more than one form. The best forms of Omega-3 fatty acids - DHA and EPA - are found in fish. Salmon, mackerel, herring (bhing), sardines and tuna are good sources. Omega-3 fats is also important for a child's brain development and eyesight, and heart health. DHA and EPA have the strongest health benefits than ALA found in flaxseed and walnuts. The body can change a small amount of ALA into EPA and DHA, but not very well.
Omega-3 fatty acids help your heart in several ways:
They curb inflammation in the blood vessels (and the rest of your body)
Lower your level of triglycerides
Curb plaque buildup inside the blood vessels.
Curb joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. A diet high in omega-3s may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs
Beware: Avoid the Omega-3 Hype
Many food products now boast that they have added omega-3 to support various aspects of your health. But be aware that the amount of omega-3 they contain may be minimal. They may contain the ALA form of omega-3, which hasn't yet shown the same health benefits as EPA and DHA.