Sources of Fat
Fats are found in plants, seeds, oils, nuts, fish, animal meat and dairy.
Fat in a liquid state is called oil.
Not all fats are the same so the key to fats is to consume the good fats (unsatureated) and avoid the bad fats (saturated).
Healthy fats help fight against heart disease and bad fats contribute to heart disease.
Why Do I Need Fat In My Diet?
Fat helps with:
- Nutrient absorption
- Nerve transmisson
- Providing energy during endurance exercise, in between meals and in times of starvation
- Essential component of cell membranes
- Insulating and acting as a shock absorber for bones and organs
- Unsaturated fats decrease risk of heart disease
- Omega 3 fatty acids assist in growth, development and brain function
Fats are converted by our body into glycerol and fatty acids. The liver converts glycerol to glucose.
Recommended Intake Of Fat
The USDA recommends that 25 to 35% of your daily calories come from Fat with no more than 7% coming from saturated (animal based) fats. – Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR): 20-35% of energy should come from fats each day with less than 10% of total energy coming from unsaturated fat.
Not All Fat Is the Same
Some fats have positive effect while others are negative such as increasing risks of heart disease. The key is to replace “bad” fats with “good” fats.
Types Of Fat:
The Good Fats
- Omega 3 fatty acids
The Unhealthy (Bad) Fats
- Trans Fats
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs) lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Monounsaturated fats have also been found to help in weight loss. Here are more weight loss nutrition tips.
Sources of Monounsaturated Fat:
- Canola oil
- Peanut butter
- Peanut oil
- Sesame seeds
- Olive oil
Eat Clean Tip: Substitute canola oil or olive for butter, margarine or shortening when cooking.
Add a few nuts or seeds on a salad or oatmeal.
Eat Clean Warning: All fats, nuts and oils are high in calories so watch how many you eat. Six (6) almonds have the same number of calories as 1 teaspoon of oil or butter.
Monounsaturated fats are not required on the INGREDIENT/NUTRITION LABEL, but many foods that are a good source do list them. When looking at product packaging please remember that every part of the package is “marketing space” and it is NOT regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) except for the Nutritional Label. It is important to check, read and understand the INGREDIENT LABEL. Never rely on the front packaging. Take a look at this site for more information or here is more information.
Polyunsaturated fats are also healthy fats that help lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Seafood, fish oil, corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids (discussed more below) are also polyunsatureated fats. Like the other healthy fats, you want to replace the sources of saturated fat in your diet with polyunsaturated fats.
Sources of Polyunsaturated Fat:
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Fish oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Soft (tub) margarine
- Salad dressings
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent clogging of arteries. Some types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids. The Association recommends eating non-fried fish 2 or 3 times a week.
Omega- 3 fatty acid sources include:
- Albacore tuna
- Rainbow trout
- Canola oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Tofu and other soybean products
Eat Clean Warning: The FDA and the EPA issued a consumer advisory concerning mercury in fish and shellfish. Pregnant woman; women who might become pregnant; nursing mothers; and young children should consume no more than 12 oz. per week. Get a more detailed explanation from the FDA.
Saturated Fats = The Bad Fats
Saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). These fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs but can also be found in seafood and some plant foods. Saturated Fats should be avoided but if eaten only in moderation. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. People with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease and limiting saturated fat can help lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. If you have diabetes please make sure you consult your health care professional for the amount of fat to have in your diet.
Sources of saturated fats are:
- Coconut oil
- Dairy products
- Palm oil
- Red meats
- Regular ground beef
- Hot dogs
- Salt pork
- High-fat dairy products
- Full-fat cheese
- Ice cream
- Sour cream
- Whole or 2% milk
- Cream sauces
- Gravy made with meat drippings
- Palm kernel oil
- Poultry (chicken and turkey) skin
Saturated fat grams are listed on the Nutrition Facts food label under total fat. As a general rule, compare foods with less saturated fat. Foods with 1 gram or less saturated fat per serving are considered low in saturated fat.
Substituting the healthy fats for saurated fats should be a priority in your meal plan. A small meal of about 12 almonds instead of cheese is an easy substiution and will help improve your heart health.
Trans fats are man made and are produced when liquid oil is made into a solid fat. This process is called hydrogenation. Trans fats act like saturated fats and can raise your cholesterol level. Hydrogenated oils are better at withstanding the food production process and extend shelf life. As a result of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are formed and that is why they are found in commercially packaged foods. Trans-fats should simply be avoided.
Like saturated fat, trans fat increases blood cholesterol levels and is actually worse for you than saturated fat.
Trans fats are listed on the nutritional label, making it easier to identify these foods. However, if there is not at least 0.5 grams or more of trans fat in a food, the label can claim none. To avoid trans fats, you have to understand and read the ingredient list on food labels. Look for words like hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. Select foods that either do not contain hydrogenated oil or where a liquid oil is listed first in the ingredient list.
Sources of Trans Fat Include:
- Foods cooked with or containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil:
- Bakery products
- Deep-fried fast foods
- Packaged snack foods
- Processed foods
Cholesterol either comes from food you eat or is made in your blood. Animal foods are sources of dietary cholesterol. Consumed cholesterol may increase your blood cholesterol. The USDA recommends that you eat no more than 300 mg per day. Cholesterol is required to be listed on the Nutrition Label.
Sources of cholesterol include:
- Egg yolks
- Ice cream
- Full-fat cheese
- High-fat dairy products
- High-fat meat
- Liver and other organ meats
- Milk (Whole or 2%)
- Poultry (chicken or turkey) skin