The Skinny on the Different Fats:
These fats have all of their carbon atoms filled (saturated) with hydrogen. Saturated fat is primarily found in high-fat cuts of meat, poultry with the skin, whole and 2 percent dairy products, butter, cheese, and tropical oils: coconut, palm, and palm kernel. Our body needs a small amount (about 20 grams) of saturated fat each day, but the typical American diet usually exceeds that amount. Too much saturated fat may cause a person’s bad cholesterol (LDL) to rise and may also increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. You can look for the amount of saturated fats in a serving of food on the nutrition label, under the heading “Saturated Fat” below the larger heading of “Total Fat.”
These fats have one space missing a hydrogen atom, instead containing a double bond between two adjacent carbon atoms. Monounsaturated fat is found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and in most nuts and nut butters. This type of fat does not cause cholesterol to increase. When a person substitutes monounsaturated fat for saturated fat, it helps to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and protects the good cholesterol (HDL) from going down. The amount of monosaturated fats (and polyunsaturated fats, see below) is only sometimes listed separately on the food label, but if not, you can calculate it by subtracting the saturated and trans fats from the total fat.
These fats have more than one hydrogen atom missing in the carbon chain and therefore contain more than one double bond. The two major categories of polyunsaturated fats are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 means there is a double bond in the third space from the end of the carbon chain. These fats are extremely healthful in that they protect against sudden death from heart attack. They can also help people lower their triglycerides. Omega-3s are used by the body to produce hormone-like substances with anti-inflammatory effects. The best sources of Omega-3s are fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and rainbow trout, among others. Canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed also contain some Omega-3s.
Omega-6 fats have a double bond in the sixth space from the end of the carbon chain. These fats are found in oils such as corn, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower. Omega-6 fatty acids are used in hormone-like substances that promote inflammation. Replacing saturated fats with Omega-6 fats may reduce levels of total, bad, and good cholesterol. Many health experts suggest that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids should be 4:1 for optimal health.
The other type of fat that is found in food, but isn’t natural, is:
–Hydrogenated Fats (also known as Trans Fats)–BAD FATS!
These are manufactured by adding hydrogen to a polyunsaturated fat, making it solid at room temperature. However, instead of having the qualities of a polyunsaturated fat, it takes on some of the traits of a saturated fat. In the past, trans fats were widely used in foods as a replacement for saturated fats. Then it was discovered that trans fat was even worse than saturated fat in terms of its effects on health. In addition to raising LDL cholesterol, as saturated fat does, it also decreases the level of HDL cholesterol.
the amount of trans fats in a food must now be shown on the nutrition label. Be aware that products containing half a gram or less of trans fat per serving are allowed to report zero grams of trans fat on the nutrition label. The best way to check for trans fat is to read the ingredients label; if you see the words “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” in front the word oil, the food probably has a small amount of trans fat. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat the food, but you should limit the amount you eat — a little can add up to a lot. Some foods contain small amounts of naturally-occurring trans fats, but these fats, unlike man-made trans fats, probably do not increase the risk of heart disease and other conditions. Moreover, some manufacturers are now replacing trans fat with saturated fats, so be sure to check the nutrition label to keep your total intake of unhealthy fats in check.
Bear in mind, though, that the calories from fat can add up fast since they are more concentrated in fat than in protein or carbohydrate. Also, as mentioned above, consuming too much saturated and trans fat may result in negative health consequences in some people. The secret is not to AVOID FATS BUT TO EAT THE RIGHT KIND!
Fat — both on our bodies and in our diet — gets an undeserved bad rap and is actually essential for our survival. Body fat is found in places you may not even think about when you’re considering its role in our health. It’s part of:
* every cell membrane
* some hormones and prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) which regulate many body functions
* nerve sheaths (nerve coverings)
Body fat is categorized as either essential or storage fat; both types play a vital role in our functioning. Essential fat is found in bone marrow and lipid rich tissues throughout the body. Storage fat is located around internal organs and under the skin (subcutaneous). These two types of body fat play important roles in keeping our bodies healthy. For example:
* A layer of fat surrounds each organ (such as your heart, liver, kidneys, etc.), protecting and cushioning it against impact during sports or accidents,
* Fat helps maintain normal body temperature.
* Fat provides us with a supply of stored energy, which can sustain us if food is not available.
Dietary fat is the fat found in a variety of foods and is a concentrated source of energy for the body. It is dangerous to eliminate all fat from your diet. Certain fats, essential fatty acids, can only be obtained from foods. These are incorporated into regulators of specific body processes such as blood pressure and even help us maintain healthy skin. Dietary fats are also required to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. These nutrients are vital to our vision, bone formation and maintenance, blood protection and clotting, nerve development, and can act as a defense against oxidation.
Tips on choosing the right fats:
Follow these tips to choose the right fats:
* Strictly limit full-fat dairy, deep-fried foods, fatty red meats and poultry skin.
* Limit processed foods, and check labels for trans and hydrogenated fats.
* Use olive or canola oil for cooking.
* Snack on small amounts of nuts or seeds, or add to low-fat yogurt or whole-grain cereal.
* Spread avocado or natural peanut, almond or cashew butter on toast instead of margarine or butter.
* Add a handful of olives, walnuts or diced avocado to your salad and use a drizzle of olive oil instead of a fatty ranch dressing.
* Choose fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna or mackerel at least twice a week.
* Consider an omega-3 supplement (essential)!!!!
Two primary essential fatty acids an Omega-6 fatty acid and Omega-3 fatty acid. These two fatty acids cannot be made in the body so we HAVE to get them from our diets. If you are not getting these fats in our diets, you are setting yourself up for fat storage, nutrient cravings, joint problems, depression, injuries and so many more negative issues. Be sure to get in your EFA’S everyday as they are KEY to your overall well being and to help you reach your fitness goals!