BY NADINE AOUN
Clinical Dietitian at
Medcare Hospital & Clinics Dubai
Eliminating fat in general from our diet in order to lose weight is a wrong concept. Fats are vital and important to our body and indispensable to human health. Fat contributes to the production of hormones as well as the development of the brain and nervous system. It also protects body organs, provides energy for the body, absorbs and transfers vitamins and food. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that adults get 2035%- of their calories from fats. However, choosing bad fat and having it in excess leads to many problems such as diabetes, high rate of cholesterol in the blood, problems in the heart and arteries, blood pressure problems, obesity, some types of cancer: pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer, low immunity, and fertility problems.
FATS ARE CLASSIFIED AS: TRANS-FAT, SATURATED FAT, MONOUNSATURATED FAT, AND POLYUNSATURATED FAT.
It causes an over activity of the immune system associated with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Trans-fat raises the bad cholesterol and lowers the good cholesterol. It is found in margarines, crackers, cookies, fried goods…
This type of fats is found in animal products (meat, seafood…), dairy products and egg yolk. It decreases the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and increases the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) promoting heart disease.
MONOUNSATURATED AND POLYUNSATURATED FATS
These fats known as “good” fats, lower the LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Monounsaturated fats can increase unwanted weight gain if taken in excessive amounts. They are found in natural foods such as nuts, avocados, olive oil and corn oil.
Shown to be protective against insulin resistance, are found in vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and cottonseed oil.
OMEGA-3-FATTY- ACID AND OMEGA-6-FATTY ACID
Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fats that our body can’t produce. The only source is food. These polyunsaturated fats are crucial since they help lower the risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 Fatty acids, sustain brain and nerve function. They clean the body and cells, promote energy and improve heart functioning. They are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and similar foods.
They mostly come as linoleic acid from plant oils such as corn oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil, also from nuts and seeds.
HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR DIET?
1. Eat at one place in the house
2. Do not shop whenever you are hungry
3. Limit buying prepared foods
4. Turn off the TV or computer when you eat
5. Do not refrain from food for a long time
6. Make healthy foods readily
7. Eat slowly
8. Leave some food in the dish
9. Enter some sports and movement in your daily life. For example, use the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car in the last position and walk instead, walk daily (at least half an hour)
10. Try activities that do not include food. For example: cinema, dance classes, games…
11. Give yourself time to rest.
When it comes to cholesterol and health, a mix of fat that you eat, rather than the total amount of fat in your diet, is what matters most. The ideal is to eat more good fats and reduce the quantity of harmful fats from your diet. It is crucial to know that you can’t eat fat-free foods as much as you want. Many fat-free foods contain a high content of sugar and refined carbohydrates and calories. Cutting calories and exercising is the key to weight loss.
WHAT IS THE AMOUNT OF FAT THAT IS CONSIDERED EXCESSIVE?
The amount of fat depends on the lifestyle, weight, age, and health status.
• Keep total fat intake about 20-35% of the calories
• Limit saturated fat to less than 10% of calories
• Reduce hydrogenated fat intake to 1% of the calories.