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Focusing on fat

Focusing on fat

     It is somewhat confusing and daunting to remember which fats are good for you and those that are unhealthy. What are polyunsaturated, saturated and monostaturated fats ? . And what about omega 3 and omega 6. Also, many folks are still under the impression that low fat & no fat foods are a healthier alternative.

     Studies have shown that for some people a low fat diet may be worse for their health than a diet of moderate or high fat. The reason is that low fat foods are high in carbs, which have demonstrated that over time a diet of high carbs can lead to diabetes & heart disease. In addition, high carbohydrate low fat diets also have a negative effect on the fats and cholesterol in our blood: They raise the “bad” blood fats (triglycerides) and they lower the “good” blood cholesterol (HDL), both of which can increase the risk of heart disease. These diets also tend to increase blood pressure. Note that if you’ve been able to keep your weight, blood cholesterol fractions, and blood glucose under good control while eating a low fat diet, this type of diet may be working for you. But for many people, low fat diets don’t work”

     Processed foods that are low fat or fat free are higher in salt, sugar, and starch (to make up for the flavor) as compared to foods with moderate fat. These products are not a healthier choice either.

From the THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA

We’re in the middle of an obesity epidemic. Won’t I be contributing to it if I don’t focus on low-fat foods and cooking? No, it’s a myth that eating high fat foods makes people fat. Eating more calories than one needs from any source, whether fat, carbohydrate, or protein can lead to weight gain. Over the past 30 years in the U.S., the percentage of calories from fat has actually gone down, but obesity rates have skyrocketed. Sugary soft drinks don’t contain any fat—yet the billions of gallons that Americans drink each year have been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.”

Studies show that low fat diets raise triglycerides and lower good cholesterol,

And are all types of fats equally healthy?

Unsaturated fat is the healthiest type of fat. Plant oils (such as olive, canola, soybean, peanut and other nut oils, nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and pistachios) , avocados, and fish (especially oily fish such as salmon) are excellent sources of unsaturated fat. Eating unsaturated fat in place of refined grains and sugar can improve blood cholesterol profiles and lower triglycerides, and in turn, lower the risk of heart disease. It’s essential to include a special kind of unsaturated fat, called omega-3 fats, in the diet; good sources include fish, walnuts, canola oil, and soybean oil.

Saturated fat is less healthy, since it raises “bad” cholesterol in the blood. We can’t completely eliminate saturated fat from our cooking, though, because foods that are rich in healthy fats also contain a little bit of saturated fat. The best strategy is to limit foods that are very high in saturated fat, such as butter, cheese, and red meat, and replace them with foods that are high in healthy fats, such as plant oils, nuts, and fish. An alternative approach is to just use a very small amount of full-fat cheese, butter, cream, or red meat in dishes that emphasize plant foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are especially bad for health. Eating just a small amount of trans fats on a regular basis raises the risk of heart disease. So it’s best to avoid trans fats altogether.

Keep in mind that most foods contain a mix of fats. The key to a healthy diet is to choose foods that are higher in unsaturated fat than saturated fat—and that do not contain any trans fats'”

For more info and a nice print out chart about good/harmful oils can be found at:

http://www.ciaprochef.com/wohf2011/pdf/CIA-HARVARD-AFocusonFat.pdf

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