Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fats













Fats are important for a healthy diet and it is important to choose them wisely while allowing yourself small indulgences. Fats supply energy and essential fatty acids and serve as a carrier for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and carotenoids. Fats serve as building blocks of membranes and play a key regulatory role in numerous biological functions.

Healthier fats include unsaturated fats from vegetable sources such as olive oil, nuts and seeds. Although these fats are healthier, it is important to practice portion control as fats are higher in calories than protein and carbohydrates (1 gram of fat has 9 calories while 1 gram of protein or of carbohydrates has 4 calories). High intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol increases the risk of unhealthy blood lipid levels, which, in turn, may increase the risk of coronary heart disease


The government recommends limiting saturated and trans fats. Many solid fats are high in saturated fats, such as butter, fat from meats (like beef, chicken and pork), shortening (from non-vegetable sources), coconut oil, and palm oil. Trans fats occur naturally in these same fats, and are also in partially hydrogenated margarines and many fried foods. Read food labels for margarine and baked foods to see if they are low or free from trans fats.

If you are trying to lower fat in your diet, look for foods labeled 'Fat Free' or 'Low in Fat'. Fat Free foods have less than half a gram of fat per serving and Low Fat foods have less than 3 grams of fat per serving.

Why Do We Need Fat?

Dietary fat helps a kid's body grow and develop like it should. Fats fuel the body and help absorb some vitamins. They also are the building blocks of hormones and they insulate nervous system tissue in the body.

So fat is not the enemy, but you'll want to choose the right amount — and the right kind — of fat. If you're getting most of your fat from lean meats, fish, and heart-healthy oils, you've already made fat your friend!

Some Recommendations:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

Here's a sample menu to help you reach that goal. It includes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, milk, and an apple. The peanut butter is high in fat, but it's a nutritious food and the overall total from the whole meal is about 30% from fat.

  • Two slices of bread = 13% fat (30 of 230 calories from fat)
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter = 75% fat (140 of 190 calories from fat)
  • One tablespoon of jelly = 0% fat (0 of 50 calories from fat)
  • One cup of 1% milk = 18 % (20 of 110 calories from fat)
  • Apple = 0% (0 of 80 calories from fat)

Total = 29% fat (190 of 660 calories from fat)

  • When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.


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