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Unsaturated Fats vs Saturated Fats- Cut Through the Myths

Unsaturated Fats vs Saturated Fats

By looking at unsaturated fats and saturated fats, we find that although they’re similar in calorie content, the effect they have on the body is much different.  We know we can’t exist without them, so by educating ourselves we can formulate a diet plan that is best for our health.  In this discussion we will also discuss Trans fats, but basically our advice on them: stay away from them, period.  A diet to reduce our excess fat that uses unsaturated fats and saturated fats in the proper proportion is what we are trying to achieve.

Should We Eliminate All Fats?

unsaturated fats

Be Good At Reading Labels

First, are we better off eliminating fats from our diet completely?  We all know that too much fat is bad, so should we attempt to wipe it out of our diet totally?  The answer is a definite no.  Fats are an important part of our diet, as they assist in absorbing many nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Another valuable function of fats is to offer linoleic acid, which is an essential fatty acid as an aid to metabolism.  Finally, fat adds to the flavor of foods, making eating a more pleasing experience.  So with that, we will talk about the benefits and harmful effects of the three basic types of fats.

1. Unsaturated Fats.  These come from plants, and are found in avocado, peanut oil, nuts, olives and olive oil as monounsaturated fat. As polyunsaturated fats they can be found in such foods as safflower, sesame, corn, cottonseed and soybean oils. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in soy, fax seed, cold water fish such as salmon, and walnuts, are also vital for health, as they assist our immune system. Look on the label for unsaturated fats, but remember they are still calorie-laden so more isn’t necessarily better.

2. Saturated Fat. These are fats originating as animals, and include dairy, eggs, meat to name a few.  They will be dense at room temperature, and with these fats discussing their benefits will bring up a lot of gray area.  A great deal of how they affect the body has to do with their molecular composition, and if you want to get into that complex subject further check out the Wikipedia page on fat.  But they directly elevate LDL levels of cholesterol and can clog arteries, so their use should be watched carefully.

The Trans Fat-Free Kitchen

The Trans Fat-Free Kitchen

But saturated fats do have some redeeming qualities.  They help in the absorption of vitamin D, and this is important for bone calcium.  In addition, brain cell maintenance, prevention of infectious diseases, helping the liver with protection from toxins and fat-soluble vitamin absorption.  In short, for a well-rounded diet (with the exception of some vegetarian diets) it would be very difficult to eliminate saturated fats from our diet.  But again they should only be consumed in moderation.

3. Trans Fats. There isn’t much good we can say about these guys.  It had been estimated recently that 40% of our grocery shelves in much of America had product with Tran’s fats in them.  If you eat product that is processed, baked or fried, you probably are consuming these fats.  Many communities like New York City have tried or been successful in legislating them out of all foods sold there, and companies like McDonald’s have eliminated them from all their foods.  It hasn’t been easy, as finding alternatives that make the food taste as good as these fats do is difficult.  They also extend product shelf life.

unsaturated fats

But why society is trying so hard to get rid of Tran’s fats makes sense.  There has been established a link with them and fat gain, especially in the stomach area.  Even so-called low calorie products can add body fat if those calories are from Tran’s fat.  They’re manufactured, and are produced by turning liquid oils into solid fat, like shortening and  hard margarine by injecting them with hydrogen.

It’s not easy determining what is good and bad with fats, but you do know you must control the quantity you consume.  By cooking more foods at home and learning how to read ingredient labels you will be able to control your diet much better when it comes to fats along with the rest of your diet.  There is a third way to go, which has taken hold in much of the United States and elsewhere.  That is Diet-to-Go, where you can turn food planning and preparation over to expert dietitians you can trust for roughly $18 per day. There are other vendors who are serving this rapidly-growing industry.

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