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Are you a fat eater? Are you avoiding buying foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol? When you go shopping, do you read the “Nutrition Facts” panel for help in choosing healthy food for your family? If so, I have good news for you! On January 1, 2006, the FDA requires manufacturers to record the amount of trans fat on the Nutrition Panel.
Why do you need to know this? The surprising truth is that trans fats are always lurking our food, unpublished. Manufacturers make trans fats when they add hydrogen to vegetable oil – a process called hydrogenation that converts liquid oil into solid fats like butter and hard margarine. Hydrogenation increases the storability and taste stability of these fat-containing foods. Without a way to measure trans fats, careful buyers like you and I have purchased food laden with them.
Why do you care about trans fat? What damage did he do? Trans fats, such as saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, increase LDL cholesterol which increases your risk for coronary heart disease. Although saturated fats are a major cause of diets that increase LDL, trans fats and cholesterol diets also contribute significantly.
Why do not you think we have a fat diet if it’s so bad for us? When eaten in moderation, fat is essential for proper growth, development, and maintenance of good health as it is the main source of energy for the body and helps in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as carotenoids. In addition, because every chef who is good at know, fat provides flavor, consistency, and stability and helps give us that happy and satisfying feeling.
However, there are “good” and “bad” fats, just as we have good and bad blood cholesterol. Saturated fats and trans fats increase LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil and corn oil) do not increase LDL cholesterol and are beneficial when consumed in moderation.
Where does the trans fat food lurk? Especially trans fats found in vegetable shortenings, some margarine, crackers, cakes, snacks, candies, salad dressings, baked goods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. You know. . . all your favorite foods.
Even some dietary supplements such as energy bars and nutrients contain trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils as well as saturated or cholesterol fats. Until now, you have no way to identify the level of trans fat in your diet.
When making a selection of foods that will be low in saturated fat and cholesterol, remember that the combined total of saturated and trans fats along with cholesterol should be low. . . 5% of the Daily Value or less is low and 20% or higher. I want to assure you that trans fats, though present in many of the foods we eat, are not “essential” for any healthy diet. . Many health and government officials, including the US Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association, recommend reducing dietary fat by 30 percent or less of total calories.
If you are sad to cross your favorite food from your grocery list, you may be wondering what you can serve. Do not be afraid, you still have some good options left:
• Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats do not increase LDL cholesterol levels and you can eat them, in moderation. Monounsaturated fat sources include olive oil and canola. Natural vegetable oils (such as olive oil, canola, peanuts, corn, soy, safflower, and sunflower oil) do not have trans fat and are high in good fats.
• Choose alternative fats: olive oil, canola, soybeans, corn, and sunflower, soft margarine, nuts and fish, lean meats and skinless poultry.
• Do not hesitate to serve your family fish, as most fish are lower in saturated fat than meat. Some fish, such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids that help fight heart disease.
• Serve healthy and balanced meals with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, cereals, and pasta, chicken and fish, nonfat or low fat dairy products. If you cook at home, choose plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, cereals, and pasta. Choose nonfat or low fat dairy products and foods that have a bad% low fat.
Copyright 2006 Dr. Eileen Silva