The Facts About Fats



Some years ago health visitors were reporting a rash of reports on under-weight toddlers in middle-income households. Concerned parents were putting their small children on low-fat diets, believing this to be healthy. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Fats are essential to everyone’s health. Between 25 and 30% of our daily calories should come from fats, and they are extremely important for children and adults. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, and is energy-dense compared to carbohydrates and proteins (4 calories/g). Although you need up to 30% calories from fat, the actual weight volume of fat on your plate should be small.

Fats are used by the body for warmth, energy, growth development, repair of body tissues, cellular health, healthy complexion and hair, uptake and storage of fat-soluble vitamins, and hormonal balance in women and teenage girls. For this reason, low body fat in women is linked to osteoporosis and reproductive problems.

There are two different types of fats, Saturated and Unsaturated.

1. Saturated are of animal origin and often solid at room temperature for example meat fat, and butter. These fats are not actually necessary for health, and only 25% of your daily fat intake should be saturated, as they are linked strongly with high LDL (bad) blood cholesterol levels, arterial disease and Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).

2. Unsaturated fats are of fish and plant origin, for example, olive oil, oily fish (mackerel, sardines, herring, salmon, fresh tuna), oils of nuts and seeds (walnut, pumpkin, almonds, sesame, flaxseed). Many of these are essential to our physical and mental health, and will keep blood and brain function healthy.

Average intake of calories from fats in the UK is 40-45% which has lead to an increase in weight problems, and related diseases (Coronary Heart Disease, Obesity, Hypertension etc). But the problems largely arise from an unhealthy balance of fats in the diet, with saturated fats being over-represented. This is due to our cultural reliance on biscuits, cakes, red meats, butter, fast-foods, processed foods and snack-foods. To stay healthy source most of your fats from oily fish, olive oil, cold-pressed seed and nut oils, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds and a variety of nuts, also avocadoes and Soya products. These foods also have the benefit of being high in many other nutrients, and eating them will lower LDL (bad) blood Cholesterol levels.

A deficiency in essential fatty acids is linked with dry skin and hair, exczema, poor attention, behavioural problems, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression and mental illness. Childrens diets are often deficient in these essential fats. Try making salmon fishcakes, including seeds and nuts in their lunch box, and using avocadoes. There are also high-quality supplements and oils on offer, which can be taken as capsules or ‘hidden’ in desserts, smoothies and salad dressings.

Convenience and snack foods contain HYDROGENATED FATS, far more harmful than saturated fats. Many Doctors and Nutritionists believe that they will cause an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and related problems in coming years. The American Food and Drugs Administration have recommended a daily intake of 0% hydrogenated fats. If you look on your food wrappers you will see them- sometimes they are not listed (often in Margarines) as this is not a legal requirement. Avoid this lethal ingredient by avoiding all foods labelled ‘hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated or shortening.’ They are used in quantity due to their cheapness and shelf life. Find them in; biscuits, cakes, crisps, margarines, chocolates, Weight Watchers Meals, Tesco’s Finest Puddings and bakery products, children’s foods, ……. The list goes on almost indefinitely. You can avoid them buy buying organic foods from which they are banned, and making your own foods at home.

Categories : Weight Loss

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