Fats and oils are in many foods and meals eaten every day.
A small amount of fats and oils are essential for health. Fats provide fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), gives protection around important organs such as the kidneys, and provides cushioning to bony areas. Many of us eat too many fats and oils daily and we would benefit from reducing the amount we eat.
So how do you choose which fats and oils are good to eat and which ones should be avoided. Gram for Gram, mil for mil, fats and oils provide the same amount of energy. When trying to lose weight the overall fats and oils intake should be reduced though not eliminated.
There are better choices when choosing fats and oils. Fats and oils can be listed into four main groups. Poly-unsaturated, Mono-unsaturated, Saturated and Trans Fats. Poly and Monounsaturated can included in a healthy diet while Saturated and Trans Fat should be reduced and avoided.
- Saturated fats are those found predominantly as animal sources i.e. fat on meat, under the skin on chicken, in butter and fats in dairy foods. It is also found in some plant sources such as coconut or palm oil, coconut milk and cooking margarine. Commercial cakes, biscuits and snack foods contain often contain Saturated Fats
- Trans Fatty Acids or Trans-fat are naturally found in butter, milk, beef and lamb. Commercially Trans Fats are found in ”hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” . Trans fats increase the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while also lowering the “good” High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the blood.
- Saturated and Trans fats have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and total cholesterol levels in the body, as they contributes to the buildup of fatty material, called plaque, on the inside of your blood vessels.
- Mono-unsaturated fats are found in olive, soybean and canola oils, some nuts (i.e. peanuts, cashews and almonds) and avocados.
- These fats have shown to lower cholesterol when used instead of saturated fats.
- Poly-unsaturated fats can be divided into two categories Omega 6’s and Omega 3’s. Oils such as sunflower, safflower, soybean, sesame and grape seed as well as nuts including brazil and walnuts contain Omega 6’s oils.
- Omega 3 Fats
- Omega 3 fats can be found in oily or deep sea fish including tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as walnuts and linseeds.
- Both Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats are known for lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.
- When you are buying foods, always look at the nutrition panel and choose foods higher in Mono and Poly-unsaturated fats and lower in Saturated and Trans Fatty Acids.
To lower your overall fat:
- To lower you overall fat in your diet and include healthier fats:
- Cut all visible fat off meat and remove the skin off chicken
- Keep meat serves to around palm size of your hand
- Eat two or more oily fish meals per week
- Look at low fat cooking methods i.e. grilling, dry frying baking, steaming and microwaving.
- When using oils in cooking choose monounsaturated oils including: Olive, Canola and peanut oils
- Choose low fat or reduced fat dairy products
- Add nuts and seeds to snacks, cereals and salads
- Look for take away meals with smaller meat serves and that use low fat cooking methods
- Your diet should be full of fruits, vegetables breads and cereals.