"Fat is Western society's greatest nutritional hazard."
(Dr C. Everett Koop, MD, Surgeon General)
42% of the calories in our daily diet are supplied by fat. Fats have got
a bad name, but all fat is not bad, in fact we would become seriously ill if all the fat in our diet was removed. We need a small amount of fat in our diet because the body
cannot produce substances called Essential Fatty Acids. But in general we eat
far too much fat. Eating too much fat can lead to overweight, it can also lead
to high levels of cholesterol in the blood which may mean a greater risk of heart disease.
It's the amount of fat and the type of fat that is the problem. For example in Mediterranean countries they have a high fat diet but in the form of
mono-unsaturated fats whereas a high percentage
of fat in the average UK diet is in the form of saturated fats from meat and dairy products like cheese and butter. In the rest of Europe they eat much more of their fat in the form of unsaturated vegetable fats like Olive
Oil. The amount of heart disease suffered by people in southern Italy and Greece
is very much lower than that in the UK.
Types of Fat
Most of the salt, sugar and fat in our diet is hidden.
There are a lot of saturated fats hidden inside cakes and biscuits, as can be seen by the amount of grease left on
a paper bag that had a cake in it.
There are 2 types of fat in food:
The difference between these types is to do with their chemical makeup.
1. Saturated Fat
Saturated fat is generally solid at room temperature
and comes from animal sources. Saturated fat is in:
A diet full of burgers, pies, sausages, etc., is loaded with saturated fat, and excess
saturated fat increases our risk of heart disease, cancer and other western related illnesses.
2. Unsaturated Fat
Unsaturated fat comes from vegetable products and is soft
or liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats include things like:
· Vegetable oils
· Olive oil
· Soft margarines
· Oily fish
There are two types of unsaturated fat:
It is best to consume monounsaturated fats rather than polyunsaturated fats or saturated fats.
Certain fats are essential to health and are often referred to as the essential fatty acids
(EFAs). This is because they are a vital component of all cell structures but
they cannot be manufactured by the body and so have to be obtained from food.
Omega 3 EFA
In a study by Oxford University researchers, school children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD) were given capsules of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids. The data
revealed better levels of concentration, improved mood, and increased learning ability.
Omega 3 EFAs can be found in fish like Tuna, Salmon and Herring and in Flax seeds.
Research has shown that in the UK diet we have 20 times the level of Omega 6 than Omega 3 EFAs.
Naturopath Michel Van Straten says it is better to eat small amounts of butter than margarine,
which is a factory food.
Trans fats are a certain type of fat that tends to be used in cakes and biscuits and has been
found to increase a persons risk of developing heart disease.
To Reduce Fat Intake
· Cut off all visible fats off meat
· Reduce meat intake, consume fish, poultry (with skin taken off)
· Grill, bake, do not fry
· Switch from full fat milk to skimmed or semi-skimmed milk - (1 pint of full fat milk contains
22 grams of fat, 1 pint of semi-skimmed milk contains 11 grams of fat but 1 pint of skimmed milk contains 0.1 gram of fat.)
· Use low-fat yoghurt or low-fat fromage frais in place of cream in sweet
dishes and in place of mayonnaise.
· Choose low-fat versions of cheese.
· Cut down on hidden sources of fat (Cakes, biscuits, pies etc.)
· Use oils that come in a spray form or brush lightly with
oil rather than deep roasting or frying in fat.
Click here to be taken to Fats - What do they do and which foods are they in?