Fats, also called lipids, are provided in the diet from such sources as animal protein, butter, oils, nuts, and many refined products. Fats are often thought of as bad, a myth perpetuated by the many fat-free products flooding store shelves. However, fats are needed in appropriate amounts for normal functioning in the body.For example, lipids are the main component of each cell in your body. In addition, fat is a major source of energy, especially when you are at rest or performing low- to moderate-intensity physical activity. Excessive consumption of fat is unhealthy, but concerns also arise when fat intake is too low. A balanced approach to fat intake will provide the necessary amount of fat for optimal health.
Fats are present in a number of forms, including saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. These designations have to do with the chemical structure of the fat. Trans fats are found naturally in some animal products (mainly meat and dairy products), but also are a result of a manufacturing process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation changes the structure of a fat to make it more stable, and as a result more like saturated fats (which are solid at room temperature). Food companies hydrogenate fat to increase the shelf life of the product, to make it taste more like butter, and to save money because it is less expensive to hydrogenate oil than it is to use butter.
In general, health concerns result from consuming too much saturated and trans fats. Trans fats have been shown to increase the bad cholesterol in blood (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL-C), even more so than saturated fats. Sources of trans fats include animal products, margarine, and snack foods. The good news is that, as a result of health concerns, the food industry is reformulating many products to remove or at least reduce the amount of trans fats. Many restaurants have also now gone "trans fat free." Companies that make processed food products are required to list the amount of trans fat in their products. Although some products have labels that state they are "trans fat free," this actually means that they contain no more than 0.5% trans fat.
Monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, avocados, walnuts, and flaxseeds, have been shown to be protective against heart disease and type 2 diabetes. That is not to say that you can consume as much monounsaturated fat as you want; however, selecting monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats may lead to better health (e.g., healthier blood cholesterol levels).
Polyunsaturated fats, such as safflower oil, corn oil, and fish oils, have also been shown to be protective against many diseases. Fish oils (eicosapentaenoic [EPA] and docosahexaenoic [DHA]) have been shown to decrease inflammation within the body, and may protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and arthritis. This does not mean that EPA and DHA are protective against everything, but they are important to overall health. Therefore, you should try to consume 2 to 3 ounces (57 to 85 g) of fatty fish (e.g., tuna, salmon, and sardines) at least two days per week.Fish oil supplements may also be warranted (consult with your health care provider to see if this is appropriate for you).
Saturated fats are found in products such as butter, cheese, meat, palm oil, and whole milk. Because of the increased risk of disease associated with saturated fats, less than 10% of your calories should come from saturated fat,with an even better target of less than 7%.Trans fats also should be limited to as little as possible. Because of the focus on saturated and trans fats, the nutrition labels on food products include total fat as well as the amount of saturated and trans fats.
Although not technically a fat, cholesterol is in the lipid family and is found in animal products. Your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol, and thus, even if your diet contained none, the liver would produce what your body needs. The problem arises when cholesterol levels in the blood become too high. Total blood cholesterol levels, as well as LDL-C levels, are definite predictors of heart disease. Although you consume cholesterol in your diet, a major factor influencing your blood cholesterol is the amount of saturated and trans fats you consume. Thus, limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 10% of your calories is recommended (no more than 7% is even better) as well as keeping your consumption of cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams per day.
Total fat intake should be between 20% and 35% of calories.Most of these calories should come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (e.g., fish, nuts, vegetable oils), and your consumption of saturated fat should be limited.
Excerpted from ACSM's Complete Guide to Fitness & Health (Human Kinetics, 2011). For more information on ACSM's Complete Guide to Fitness & Health, or other health and fitness resources, visit www.HumanKinetics.com
Surely many readers have had thoughts such as, I wish my tummy was flatter, or how can I get rid of that pouch....I want to loose weight around my waist....well, here are some tipps to aid these goals with some nutritional advice and a list of DOS and DONTS
To facilitate the myriad of biochemical processes that go on inside us each and every day we all need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. To get these nutrients we need to eat a wide variety of different kinds of food, but, alarmingly, many of us eat a very restricted diet in which we repeatedly choose our favourite meals. In contrast, in Japan people eat a far more varied diet, often consuming around 100 different varieties of food each week. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the United Kingdom finds itself at Number 37 in the world rankings for life expectancy, while Japan finds itself at Number 3?
When you eat soup, you feel full faster, which stops you from consuming other foods. More than that, eating soup improves your digestion and hydrates your body. You won't feel hungry at all after eating plenty of soup, that's for sure!
People suffer from all kinds of ailments and are very often not aware of the fact that a healthy nutrition and active lifestyle in terms of regular exercises can make a huge difference! Start healing yourself and use some of the tricks mentioned on our blog!
There's a lot of truth to the old saying - you are what you eat! This is of course especially true when you are trying to achieve maximum health, tone and fitness in the shortest amount of time. Check out our smoothie recipe!
Of course, we should be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day....but did you know that even the colours of the vegetables have an impact on our health and wellbeing?
Whether you have made the full vegetarian plunge or just want to mix it up, sans the meat, once a week, this healthy, meatless main dish will have you swooning...
It is not what we eat but what we digest and assimilate that adds to our health, strength and usefulness.
Do you still think that nuts are a snack to stay away from, because of their high fat content? Well let us show you something you might not have known!
Those who want to maintain their weight or loose weight need to eat...DON'T stop eating, eat differently...we will show you how: First up: Oranges & Grapefruit
Eating soup in the evening instead of heavy meals will help you achieve just that. Diets will only make you loose weight for a short amount of time and when you start eating the way you ate before, the pounds will just double up. Try our tasty soup or salad recipes for your evening meals instead of fatty snacks.