A misconception: A fat person eats too much of fat. It is wrong. One can get fat by eating carbs, not just the fat. We need fat on a daily basis. I am talking about dietary fat not the folds of fat we get around our waist and thighs, hips and of course on our arms.
Why do we need dietary fat?
It is because they are the ones who provide us with essential fatty acids (EFA) which, our bodies are incapable of producing by themselves. Along with supplying essential fatty acids, fat also supplies vitamins like A, D, E and K which are also known as fat soluble vitamins.
"Fat is also necessary for maintaining healthy skin, and it plays a central role in promoting proper eyesight and brain development in babies and children," Karmally tells WebMD. (From WebMD)
If fat is good for us, why do we say it is bad for us?
That is because it is the same fat which can clog arteries, raise cholesterol levels, triglycerides and cause cardiac problems. It is suggested that our daily fat calories should be between 20% and 35 % of the total calories intake.
"Diets rich in saturated fat and trans fat (both "bad" fats) raise blood cholesterol concentrations, contributing to clogged arteries that block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart and brain". - WebMD
Fat can be classified broadly into Unsaturated fats or good fats, Saturated fats or Bad fats and Transfats or ugly fats.
Unsaturated Fats (Good fats):
Further Unsaturated fats are classified into monosaturated fats and polysaturated fats.
These aid in lowering the total cholesterol, lowering the bad LDL cholesterol and increasing the good HDL cholesterol. Food sources high in monounsaturated fats are olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, nuts like peanuts, almonds, pistachios, flax seeds, avocado.
Seafoods like salmon and fish oil are the richest sources of this type of fat. These are responsible for lowering the cholesterol too. These are the source of omega fatty acids which are so good for the heart. Vegetarian source of these are corn, sunflower, safflower oil and soy.
Saturated fats (Bad fats):
These fats increase the cholesterol and LDL (bad) part of it too. These are richly found in animal sources like eggs, meat, dairy and seafood. There are vegetarian sources which have this too - coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil. When taken in excess, these cause heart problems and stroke.
Trans fats (Ugly fats):
There are traces of this ugly fat in highly fatty meats and full fat dairy. But, this is nothing when compared to the transfat present in the 'hydrogenated' fats present in the packaged goods. Be very careful when the package says zero transfat and the ingredients have hydrogenated vegetable oil present in the list. In U.S, it is allowed to mention as 0 % transfat even when there is about 1% or less of it. If you eat couple of servings of this kind, it exceeds the limit of 2% transfat which is not really good at all. Vegetable shortening, stick margarine are some of the major ingredients which constitute towards transfat and are commonly present in packaged goods.
So, how much should I consume from each of these?
Based on how much calories intake category you fall under -
1,800 Calories a Day
- 40 to 70 grams of total fat
- 14 grams or less of saturated fat
- 2 grams or less of trans fat
- 49 to 86 grams of total fat
- 17 grams or less of saturated fat
- 3 grams or less of trans fat
- 56 to 97 grams of total fat
- 20 grams or less of saturated fat
- 3 grams or less of trans fat.
Best way is to hit a balance of everything. That is the key to healthy living.
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