2.03.2014

Living Healthy and Happy: Frazzled by Fats


"Oh fat, why do you have to taste so delicious and be in all of my favorite foods?"  I get this question all of the time whether it is about a baked good or a ribeye steak. Yes, fat can be detrimental to our health but it also has many health benefits and is needed in our diet....but not in excess. 

A fat is a fat when it comes to calories. There is no such thing as "light" olive oil. Whether it is a healthy fat or an unhealthy fat, it still has 9 calories per gram. There are 2 major types: saturated (solid at room temperature, mainly from animal products and coconut oil) and unsaturated (liquid at room temperature, olive oil and margarine). The other 2 types worth mentioning:  trans fat (the worst fat for your health) and Omegas (fatty acids that are one of the best fats for your health). 

What does fat do for our bodies?  Fat provides energy (calories) that aid in satiety or prevent you from getting hungry. Fat intake also helps you absorb the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, K (and we need all the help we can get with those vitamins, hello Vitamin D deficiency in 70% of American adults). Fats also help cushion and protect our organs from injury as well as make our skin gorgeous and youthful. Healthy fat intake also helps produce important hormones in our bodies.

What do fats do for our health? Healthy fats are super important for heart health. The healthier the fats you eat, the less likely they are going to build up in the arteries around your body (think of those tiny ones in your eyes). This puts you at less risk for heart attack, stroke and heart disease. Healthy fats also are very important for our nervous system and making sure our brain is functioning well. Unhealthy fats can increase our cholesterol, blood triglycerides (if these are high, think about plaque buildup in your arteries), hormonal imbalances, and aging faster. This is my best example:  think about bacon fat after it cools down, that white solidified fat in your pan is doing the exact same thing in your body. 

What kind of fats should you eat?  Unsaturated fats and Omega fatty acids are at the top of my list. Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil are a few of my favorites. Also getting healthy fats from nuts and seeds, natural nut butters and avocados is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle.  When it comes to Omegas, try to consume at least 2 servings of fatty fish (salmon, tuna) each week or opt for a fish oil supplement (they are not all created equal so please talk to a dietitian before you purchase). I also feel there are saturated fats that provide other healthy nutrients like lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. 

Butter or margarine?  Since this fat is something we should be eating in moderation and not the whole stick or container, go ahead and have "A" serving (1 tablespoon my friends) of real butter. In my book, margarine just does not cut it. 

For more information on how to start living YOUR healthy life and an individualized plan for you, call or email me at 515.285.7266 | acundiff@hy-vee.com