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The fight against fat: how to identify right from wrong

We all need fat, I’m happy to say that. It is essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, and where essential fatty acids such as omega-3s are found. We also need fat for a host of other functions such as building cell walls and moving muscles.

But fat is the highest calorie food we can eat, and most dieticians agree that if you are trying to lose weight while maintaining a balanced diet, it is necessary to limit your fat intake. It is especially important to monitor the amount of saturated and “trans” fats (generally listed as “partially hydrogenated oil” and used in solid margarine, cookies, cakes and fried foods) as they increase our “bad” LDL cholesterol. , which is linked to heart disease. And yes, we all know someone who swears by a high fat keto diet – but the vast majority of medical professionals dismiss them as not a long term solution at best and downright dangerous at worst.

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils. Sunflower oil and rapeseed oil are high in polyunsaturated fats, as are oily fish. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are found in polyunsaturated oil, and a balance of the two is essential for good health, although most westerners consume too much omega-6 (found in cooking oils). ) and not enough omega-3 (found in seaweed and oily fish). Monounsaturated fats (in olive oil, nuts and flax seeds) are central to the Mediterranean diet, which is linked to low rates of heart disease.

Saturated fat (usually a solid) is found in high amounts in meat as well as in butter, cheese and coconut oil. This is not bad in itself, but most doctors agree that too much saturated fat shifts the cholesterol balance in our blood from “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) to “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL). bad »low density lipoproteins (LDL); we should limit intake to less than 10 percent of our daily calories – an 8-ounce steak or a few matchboxes of cheese, but not both.

Trans fat, meanwhile, is the bad guy in the fat world. A small amount is naturally present in meat and dairy products, but almost all is made by combining hydrogen and vegetable oil to form a solid or “partially hydrogenated” fat. These are cheap and improve the shelf life of foods, but are also linked to heart attacks, strokes and type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization has called them “toxic” and made campaign to eliminate trans fats from the global food chain by 2023. They are banned in Denmark, Austria, Iceland and parts of the US, but the UK is counting on a voluntary reduction by manufacturers. . Why? This is a very good question and it seems like a bizarre approach since it would force food companies to choose to cut their profits. How do you spot trans fats? Look for “partially hydrogenated oil” on the label.

“Healthy” labels: what do their claims really mean?

Fat free ⇢ Contains less than 0.5g fat per serving, but wondering what replaces fat to make it taste and feel like a high fat product? These are probably either sugar or refined carbohydrates, both of which are implicated in obesity. Or it could be a gel-like thickener such as carrageenan – an algae extract that can cause intestinal problems, especially for people with Crohn’s disease.

Low fat Contains 3g or less of fat per 100g. It may also contain additives to compensate for the reduction in fat.

Sugar free Contains less than 0.5g per serving of free sugar or intrinsic sugar, but will likely contain artificial sweeteners and flavors as it cannot (for example) contain milk or whole fruit as this would contain intrinsic sugar. May also have added thickeners to give it a better “mouth feel”.

Little sweet Less than 5g of sugar per 100g. Low-sugar products like baked beans and ketchup contain artificial sweeteners.

No added sugar ⇢ No “free” sugar is added, but there may be natural “intrinsic” sugar in the food.

reduced in fat or sugar ⇢ Contains at least 30 percent less fat or sugar than the standard version of the product. Not necessarily healthier, however, and can have almost as many calories with additional additives.

Rich in protein ⇢ Legally, a product can claim to be high in protein if at least 20 percent of the food’s calories are provided by protein, which contains four calories per gram. But that doesn’t mean it’s as high a source as the alternatives. So, a vegan pork substitute can claim to be high in protein with 12.5g of protein per 100g, but that’s still far less than the 30g of lean pork it mimics.

Do ingredient lists and nutrition labels affect what you buy? Tell us in the comments section

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This notice was published: 2021-09-10 10:24:45

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