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Stress Management for Health Course

Fat

"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:

1.          Saturated

2.          Unsaturated 

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:

 

        Meat

        Lard

        Butter

        Cheese

        Cream

        Milk

        Cakes

        Biscuits

       Chocolate

        Pastry

 

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

        Sunflower

        Soya

    Olive oil

       Soft margarines

        Oily fish

        Crisps

        Nuts

 

 

There are two types of unsaturated fat:

a.        Polyunsaturated Fat

b.        Monounsaturated Fat

It is best to consume monounsaturated fats rather than polyunsaturated fats or saturated fats.

 

Essential Fatty Acids

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

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?