Let's talk about FAT!

s this something you should be afraid of? Is this something you should monitor? How do I monitor my fat intake? 

The answer is no! You should not be afraid of Fat! However, this is highly encouraged to monitor and understand the facts you are consuming. 

 

What is Fat?

Dietary Fat is essential for our survival! FAT is one of the three macronutrients of a human's diet and is a significant energy source! However, Fat has twice as many calories that of carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates and Proteins are 4kcal/gram as to Fat is 9kcal/gram. 

Consuming the recommended amount of dietary Fat, which are heart-healthy fats and oils, is vital for your overall health and well-being. Fat is important for our bodies. It helps provide us with energy and allows the body to use vitamins A, D, E, and K. Sufficient amounts of dietary fats support the absorption of these vitamins in the small intestine. 

Before we start, let's gain some knowledge!

 

Lipids

There are four main groups of lipids. One of the groups of lipids we will be discussing today is fatty acids (saturated or unsaturated.)

Fatty acids are the building blocks of Fat.  

 

Lipoproteins  

Lipoprotein is the combination of Fat (lipid) and protein. Lipids need to be attached to a protein so they can move through the blood. A lipoprotein structure is assembled to transport a hydrophobic (water-hating) lipid. There are five types of lipoproteins; today, we will talk about two!

 

Two types of Lipoproteins: High-Density Lipoprotein (good cholesterol), Low-Density Lipoprotein (bad cholesterol), the form in which cholesterol is transported in the blood. HDL is good cholesterol as it absorbs cholesterol and takes it back to the liver to flush it from the body to help protect against heart disease. 

LDL is bad cholesterol. Too much LDL blocks your blood vessels and increases your risk of heart disease. 

 

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like waxy substance found in our cells. Our liver is where our cholesterol is synthesized and found in some foods (meat and dairy products.) Having too much cholesterol in our blood raises the risk for heart disease. With high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your vessels. Fatty deposits can grow in your vessels thick enough to restrict the blood flow through your arteries. 

*Cholesterol travels through the blood on lipoproteins. 

You are now ready to learn about fats!

 

There are three different types of fats and some health concerns surrounding consuming too much of some types of fats and their effect on the body!  

The 3 Fats:

  • Saturated Fats
  • Trans Fat 
  • Unsaturated Fats

 

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are naturally occurring in certain foods in low dosage amounts. Saturated fats are usually solid or semi-solid at room temperature. Found primarily in products such as pork, beef, cheese, chicken, or butter. 

Saturated fats are primarily unhealthy Fat that raises blood cholesterol which increases the risk of heart disease. 

Foods high in saturated fats:

Coconut Oil

Palm Oil 

Margarine

Butter 

Full-fat dairy products, milk, cheese, and cream

Any processed foods, pies, pastries, and doughnuts. 

 

**Low Doses of Saturated Fats can be found in animal products

TIP* Replacing high saturated fat foods with healthier options can lower blood cholesterol levels and improve lipid profiles. 

 

Trans fat

The hydrogenation process artificially forms trans Fat. 

Hydrogenation! What is this?

Hydrogenation is the process of forcing hydrogen into vegetable oils to create a semi-solid to solid saturated Fat. This process allows for longer shelf life. Trans fats behave like saturated Fat. Studies have shown that Trans fat can raise people's low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, "bad cholesterol."

Foods high in trans fats:

Microwave Popcorn

Frozen Pizza

Fried Foods such as french fries, fried chicken

Shortening containing foods: pies, pastries, cookies & donuts

Processed Foods

TIP* Do your best to read the packaging on the products you consume and steer away from Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. 

 

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature, mainly found in plant sources with a short shelf life. 

 Unsaturated fats are categorized into two types, Monounsaturated fatty acids, and Polyunsaturated fatty acids.  

Monounsaturated fats reduce levels of LDL in the bloodstream, which decreases cholesterol to HDL. 

 

Foods high in Monounsaturated Fats: 

Canola oil

Peanut oil

Olive oil

Avocados

Nuts: Almonds, Pistachios, Peanuts, Pecans & Cashews.

 

Polyunsaturated fats split into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats help reduce LDL levels by decreasing the total cholesterol to HDL ratio. 

Foods high in Polyunsaturated Fats: Omega-3 & Omega-6

Fatty Fish - Salmon, Mackerel, Trout, Herring, Sardines & Tuna

Seafood

Flaxseed Oil

Corn oil

Soybean oil

Safflower oil

Nuts 

**Omega-3 Fun Facts: Anti inflammatory properties & may lower levels of depression.

 

Food for thought!

  • Read nutrition labels. Find out how much Fat is in the foods you eat. 
  • Do your best to avoid trans Fat and reduce Saturated Fats.
  • Focus on intaking Unsaturated Fats. 
  • Eat More Fruits & Veggies.
  • Bake, Broil, or Grill your Meats. 
  • Remove visible Fat from meat. 

Overall, rather than going for a low-fat diet, focus on eating "good" fats and avoiding harmful "bad" fats. Opt for foods with "good" unsaturated fats, limit foods high in saturated Fat, and avoid "bad" trans-Fat. Try monitoring or intuitively track your daily macronutrient intake to consist of 30% or less of your fat intake and limit your saturated Fat to consist of no more than 10% of your fat intake. 

 

Note* Daily fat intake can vary based on an individual's diet and goals. An individual's macronutrients are catered to their needs. If you desire help with macros, please consult with your physician or a certified nutritionist and find a macros ratio that fits you. 

 

By: Kyara Rohana