The fight against fat: how to tell the good from the bad
We all need fat, I’m happy to say. It is essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, and where we find essential fatty acids such as omega-3. We also need fat for a multitude of other functions such as building cell walls and muscle movement.
But fat is the highest calorie food we can eat, and most dietitians agree that if you’re trying to lose weight while maintaining a balanced diet, it’s necessary to limit your fat intake. It’s especially important to watch the amount of saturated and “trans” fats (usually listed as “partially hydrogenated oil” and used in solid margarine, cookies, cakes, and fried foods) because they raise 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 at best not a long-term solution and at worst downright dangerous.
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 fatty fish. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are found in polyunsaturated oil, and a balance between the two is essential for good health, although most Westerners consume too much omega-6 (found in oils of cooking) and not enough omega-3 (found in seaweed and fatty fish). Monounsaturated fats (in olive oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds) are central to the Mediterranean diet, which is linked to low rates of heart disease.
Saturated fat (usually a solid) is found in high levels in meat as well as in butter, cheese, and coconut oil. It’s not bad in itself, but most doctors agree that too much saturated fat shifts the balance of cholesterol in our blood between the “good” high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and the “bad” low density lipoproteins (LDL); we should limit intake to less than 10% of our daily calories – an 8 oz steak or two matchboxes of cheese, but not both.
Trans fats, on the other hand, are the villain of the fat world. A small amount occurs naturally in meat and dairy products, but almost all of it 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 food, 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 relies on voluntary reduction by manufacturers. . Why? This is a very good question and seems like a bizarre approach as it would force food companies to choose to cut their profits. How to identify trans fats? Look for “partially hydrogenated oil” on the label.
Health Labels and What They Really Mean
Contains less than 0.5g of fat per serving, but wonder what replaces the fat to make it taste and feel like a high-fat product? It’s probably sugar or refined carbs, both of which are implicated in obesity. Or it could be a gel-like thickener such as carrageenan – a seaweed extract that can cause intestinal problems, especially in people with Crohn’s disease.
Contains 3 g or less of fat per 100 g. It may also contain additives to compensate for the fat reduction.
Contains less than 0.5g per serving of free sugar or intrinsic sugar, but will likely contain artificial sweeteners and flavorings 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 “mouthfeel”.
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 fat or sugar
Contains at least 30% less fat or sugar than the standard version of the product. Not necessarily healthier, however, and can have nearly as many calories with added additives.
Rich in protein
Legally, a product can claim to be high in protein if at least 20% of the calories in the food 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 may 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.
This article is updated with the latest information.
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This notice was published: 2022-08-03 14:38:01