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What is fat
For years we’ve heard a single message about fat: It’s bad for you. There’s just one problem with this message: It’s not true. In reality, only certain types of fat are harmful to your health. Others may actually help prevent heart disease. And we all need some fat to absorb certain vitamins and maintain a healthy immune system; fat also provides the material for hormone production, such as testosterone.Distinguish between healthful and unhealthful fats In the following sections, we take a look at the different types of fat.
3 Types of fat
1. Saturated fat:
Saturated fat is the really bad stuff. In excess quantities, saturated fat raises your levels of blood cholesterol and clogs your arteries. It’s found mostly in Animal products, such as beef, pork, chicken, milk, ice cream, and cheese.
But the amount of saturated fat in these foods varies greatly. For instance, 4 ounces of roasted pork tenderloin contain only about 2 grams of saturated fat, compared to 12 grams of saturated fat in 4 ounces of beef ribs.
How much saturated fat is too much?
The major health organizations recommend keeping saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your total calories. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, that means you can get 200 of those calories from saturated fat.
Because 1 gram of saturated fat (or fat of any kind) contains 9 calories, you can eat about 22 grams of saturated fat per day. (By the way, that’s four fewer saturated fat grams than the amount in one Burger King Double Whopper with cheese.)
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2. Trans fats:
These artery-clogging fats may be just as harmful as saturated fats; they’ recreated through hydrogenation, a process that turns liquid oils into solids like margarine and shortening.
Hydrogenation makes pie crusts flakier and french fries crispier. (Thanks to their trans fat, McDonald’s french fries have roughly as much artery-clogging fat as if they were fried in lard.) Chips, crackers, cookies (yes, even low-fat cookies), granola bars, pastries, microwave popcorn, many types of bread, many cereals, and many peanut butters often contain trans fats.
Look for the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on labels and avoid those products that use hydrogenated oils, especially when near the top of the list. Keep reading labels and don’t give up:
For every ten cereals or microwave popcorn products that have trans fat, you can find one that doesn’t.
3. Unsaturated fat:
All right, now we’re getting to the fats that may actually be good for your health. Unsaturated fat is the kind found in foods such as:
• Canola and flaxseed oils
• Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel
• Nuts and seeds
• Peanuts and “natural” peanut butter (the kind made only from peanuts and salt, as opposed to the processed kinds, like Jif and Skippy, which have hydrogenated fats, mentioned in the preceding section)
• Olives and olive oil
Unsaturated fats fall into two categories: mono and poly. Olive and canola oils are predominantly monounsaturated, as are peanut butter and avocado.Corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils are mainly polyunsaturated.
The evidence is strong that monounsaturated fats may help protect against heart disease by reducing levels of LDL cholesterol (the artery-clogging kind) without affecting HDL cholesterol (the kind that acts as a vacuum cleaner within your bloodstream). There’s less of aconsensus about polyunsaturated fats, but you want to eat a balance of both.
So how much fat is it okay to eat?
That’s debatable. Most major health organizations recommend keeping your total fat intake to less than 30 percent of your total calories (about 66 fat grams per day if you eat 2,000 calories). However, the 30 percent figure is not backed.
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( Our purpose is simply to provide you with information. Be sure to consult a specialist or your family doctor before consuming anything. )
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