Yesterday’s post looked at research from The Fat Panel which reveals when it comes to dietary fat, most of us are baffled.
It’s easy to see why too. While watching BBC Three’s 5 Really Disgusting Foods last night, Alex Riley looked into the truly disgusting range of ingredients certain low-budget brands will use to produce food as cheaply as possible. The subject came up of the use of trans fats such as hydrogenated fat in foods and my other half immediately popped up with ‘I’ve never understood what trans fats actually are’, lucky for him, I was able to tell him exactly what they were as a result of the research I’ve been doing for my latest blog posts – handy eh!
So, back to the topic in hand…
Let’s look at the bad fats first. The main culprits are: Saturated Fat & Trans Fats
Saturated fat is typically found in foods derived from animals such as full fat dairy products including butter, full fat cheese and cream, fatty meats and meat products. Baked goods such as cakes, biscuits and pastries are also high in saturated fat. Excessive intakes of saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Current figures suggest that, on average, we are consuming 20% more saturated fats than experts recommend.
Trans fats or trans fatty acids in our diet are mainly derived from two sources. Trans fats are formed when liquid oils are hardened by a process called partial hydrogenation. The other source of trans fats is naturally occurring in some meat and dairy food. The most common dietary sources of trans fats in the UK are: biscuits, cakes, meat pies and pastries. Trans fats raise bad blood cholesterol and reduce good blood cholesterol – this again increases the risk of heart disease. And to think a quarter of those surveyed by The Fat People thought they should be eating more trans fats!
Some fat in the diet is important for good health.
The good fats are: Polyunsaturated Fats and Monounsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats are classified in two types – Omega 3 and Omega 6. Considered essential because they cannot be made in the body, therefore these fatty acids must be obtained through the diet. Omega 6 fats are mainly found in sunflower, corn and most other pure vegetable oils, and products made with these oils such as nuts, seeds and oils. Omega 6 polyunsaturated fats help lower bad blood pressure when it replaces saturated fats in the diet, which helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease. There are two types of Omega 3 fats: one type is via vegetable oils such as flaxseed oil and rapeseed oil and some nuts, the other type is found in oil-rich fish such as sardines and salmon. Like Omega 6, Omega 3, particularly from fish oils, is known to help keep the heart and circulation healthy.
The second good fat is Monounsaturated fats which are found in most types of nuts, avocado pears, rapeseed oil, olive oil and products made from these. Monounsaturated fat does not raise cholesterol and evidence shows that it can help lower bad cholesterol levels when it replaces saturated fat in the diet.
By following a balanced healthy diet with the occasional treat thrown in and learning to become a little more savvier with what you are regularly putting in your body – these small steps could go a long way to better health.
I hope this post has proved informative and simplified the murky waters of dietary fat for you.
Please feel free to comment away on this one – be great to hear from you…