Healthy Thursday: Incorporating Fats back into your Diet


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A healthy diet balances the number of calories you eat with the number of calories you burn. It emphasizes eating vegetables, fruits, whole-grain/high-fiber foods, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish (at least twice a week) and limiting your saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Also, drink fewer beverages and eat fewer foods with added sugars; choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. As you begin making healthier choices, remember that old eating patterns can be hard to break, so you may not be able to change overnight. Introduce improvements to your diet gradually. Before you know it, your new choices will become as routine as your old ones. You need to cut calories to lose weight – fats are more filling, and curbing hunger can stop you from indulging in additional calories.

Ironically, cutting fat out of our diets seems to have the opposite effect: while Americans have been eating less fat, we’ve been getting fatter. In place of fats, many people turn to foods full of easily digested carbohydrates, or to fat-free products that replace healthful fats with sugar and high-calorie, refined carbohydrates.

Although it is still important to limit the amount of cholesterol you eat, especially if you have diabetes, dietary cholesterol isn’t nearly the villain it’s been portrayed to be. Cholesterol in the bloodstream is what’s most important. And the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats in your diet-not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food.

We should all be increasing our intake of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which we need for body functions like controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. The three key members of the Omega -3 family are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA);eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines, or some cold-water fish oil supplements. Canned (albacore) tuna and lake trout can also be good sources, depending on how the fish were raised and processed.

You may hear a lot about getting your omega-3’s from foods rich in ALA fatty acids. ALA is the most common Omega-3 found in American diets and is found in abundance in flax seeds and flax seed oil, as well as walnuts, canola oil, and soybeans.

Monounsaturated Fats are important heart-healthy fats are known to lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol. They are found in olive oil, almonds, and avocados.

Make no mistake though: Too much total fat–more than about 25 percent of calories–is still a bad idea. You want to limit saturated fats and trans fats. And curb the omega-6 fats, such as corn oil.

The fact is we all need fats: Fats helps nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, maintaining cell membrane integrity etc. However, when consumed in excess amount, fats contribute to weight gain, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Fats are not created equal. Some fats promote our health positively while other increases our risks of heart disease. The key is to replace bad fats with good fats in our diet. In other words, if you take super food supplements without fat, you’re not getting the same benefit as taking the same supplements with a little bit of fat

 

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