COLUMBIA - The word "fat" is used in so many ways. People talk about "good fat" and "bad fat" but what does that mean, exactly?
Fats are good! And necessary! It's true! Fats provide essential fatty acids, help to deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great fuel source. It's when we take in too many fats and the "bad" fats that it can become a problem (for our heart and for our belt loops).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults get 20%-35% of their calories from fats. At a minimum, we need at least 10% of our calories to come from fat. That seems easy, right?
Research shows us that the typical American diet has us getting 34% - 40% of our calories from fat. Oops. But they taste so good! I know, I know.
What you need to keep in mind is that fat (good or bad) is calorie-dense. Fat is 9 calories per gram. (Carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per gram and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.)
But, as I stated before, fats are still necessary for a healthy diet, just which ones?
To understand good and bad fats, you need to know what they are:
• monounsaturated fats (good!)
• polyunsaturated fats (good!)
• trans fats (bad.)
• saturated fats (bad.)
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the "good fats" because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.
Saturated fats and trans fats are known as the "bad fats" because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol.
• Olive oil
• Canola oil
• Sunflower oil
• Peanut oil
• Sesame oil
• Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
• Peanut butter
• Soybean oil
• Corn oil
• Safflower oil
• Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
• Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
• High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
• Chicken with the skin
• Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)
• Ice cream
• Palm and coconut oil
• Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
• Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
• Stick margarine
• Vegetable shortening
• Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)
• Candy bars
How much fat is too much depends on your lifestyle, your weight, your age, and most importantly the state of your health. The USDA recommends that the average person:
• Keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories
• Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)
• Limit trans fats to 1% of calories (2 grams per day for a 2000 calorie diet)
So go out and grab some "good" fats! Your body will thank you.