So let me ask you a this question.
Are you in control of the food you eat OR is the food in control of you?
In this post I want to share with you what I have learned about fats in our diet.
We all know that proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are essential for a healthy diet. But did you know that calories from fats are more fattening than calories from proteins and carbohydrates?
It’s true! There is research to show this. Google it and you will see.
The fact is that each gram of fat contains more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrates. In fact this is how it goes:
- carbohydrate: 1 gram = 4 calories
- protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
- fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
There is also some research to confirm that calories from fat are converted to ‘body fat’ more readily than the same number of calories from carbohydrates and proteins.
Of course this does not mean that you should just choose and eat carbohydrates and proteins only. This really is not rational behavior!
Well to begin with fats from various foods provide the body with vitamins:
- A (essential for vision, bone growth, and skin and tissue repair)
- D (essential for bone and teeth formation and calcium absorption)
- E (essential healthy skin and circulation, and it is an antioxidant)
In addition, fats from food provide our bodies with essential fatty acids, which cannot be made by our bodies. Fats in our diet also contribute to taste, texture, and palatability of the food we eat. So while fats in excess, as with anything in excess, can be hazardous to our health, we do need to consume small amount of fats for the healthy functioning of our bodies.
Type and how much fats should we eat?
To find the answer to this question I did some research and found that nearly all articles I came across suggested that fats should make up no more than 30 % of out total daily calories.
This means that there should be no more than 3 grams of fat per 100 calories because 1 gram of fat is 9 calories. So 3 grams of fat provide 27 calories.
So now you know how much fat to have, the type of fat is also crucial for a healthy diet.
You may have heard of saturated and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are not so good fats. These fats come mainly from dairy. Because the fat molecules do not react with anything in the body, they cannot be broken down. So they accumulate in your arteries. Hence, eating too much food containing saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol level and narrow your arteries. This in turn could lead to heart attacks.
Unsaturated fats, both in the form of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated can help reduce the harmful cholesterol (LDL – low density lipids) that clogs up arteries as well as increase the body’s beneficial cholesterol (HDL – high density lipids), which has the effect of reducing the body’s cholesterol level
Monounsaturated fats (e.g. sesame oil and olive oil) are less vulnerable to oxidation than polyunsaturated fats (eg. in walnuts, seeds, and soy beans). Polyunsaturated fats provide essential fatty acids, omega-3 (reduce risk of heart disease) and omega-6 (reduce levels of blood-cholesterol).
How to reduce your dietary fats
- Cheese: If you are a cheese lover, choose low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, curd, or mozzarella instead of hard cheese like Cheddar. If this is too hard, then use a small amount of a strong-aged cheese such as Parmesan as only a small amount is needed to add flavor. But know that this is a high-fat cheese.
- Salad dressing: Opt for low-fat salad dressings or make your own using miso, orange juice, yogurt, herbs, spices or tomato juice instead of oils.
- Fried foods: Try baking or grilling foods. We switched to boiling sausages instead of frying, and it works well for both veggie sausages (for me) and the meaty ones (for my husband). If you want to stir-fry food, then make sure the pan is hot before adding the oil as then you will only need a small amount.
- Blended oils: Read food labels and avoid oils that maybe blended as they may contain coconut oil or palm oil. Both are saturated fats.
- Low fat yogurt: Switch to using low fat yogurt instead of cream in recipes. Mix in a little bit of cornflour with the yogurt and stir into a paste with water. This will prevent the yogurt from curdling when heated.
- Fries: Boil or baked potatoes taste just as nice, but is much healthier for you.
- Red-fatty meats: If you are a meat eater like my husband, then substitute to fish, skinless chicken, or lean meat.
- High-fat protein food: Choose complex carbohydrates like potatoes, pasta, brown rice, and beans instead.
For you to ponder on
Changing a diet plan for whatever reason should be done with an open and rational mind. It is possible to live without ice cream, chocolates, cookies, potato chips, hot dogs, burgers, and other high-fat food. People have lived for centuries without these types of food, and some still do live healthy lives without such food. At the end of the day, it is your choice.