Cooking with Lou

What are the Good Fats?

– Posted in: Cooking Tips

fatsWhat are the good fats?

Here’s the Good, The Bad and The Ugly about fats.

Let’s start with some basic facts that you probably already know:

  • Trans fats and saturated fats: Bad fat
  • Unsaturated fats: Good fat

But do you know where trans fats come from? They started out as an unsaturated fat, but went through a hydrogenation process (a chemical reaction between hydrogen and a catalyst  that alters the chemical properties of the target compound or element by adding hydrogen atoms into that compound which  “saturates” that compound. This process can only be accomplished at high temperatures. Hydrogenation of  unsaturated fats produces saturated fats and trans  fats. This process can only occur at extremely high temperatures and would not happen during any home cooking process.

Trans fats  are used in many food products as a binding agent and a preservative.  Trans fats are usually man made and added to food.   Natural saturated fats are in meat, butter, ice cream, and animal fat.

According to WebMD and the American Heart Association, fat is a necessary component of our diet. Fat supplies essential fatty acids (EFAs). “Your body is incapable of producing the EFAs, known as linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, so it must derive them from food,” explains Wahida Karmally DrPH, RD, professor of nutrition at Columbia University and director of nutrition at The Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. “Fat is also necessary for maintaining healthy skin, and it plays a central role in promoting proper eyesight and brain development in babies and children,” Karmally tells WebMD. (www.webMD.com)

So how much fat should we eat? It depends on your calorie intake, but the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that we get 20% to 35% of our calories from fat. Most Americans get 34% or more. Which is why we tend to weigh more than we wish!

So how much is too much?  Let’s look at a calorie intake of 1800 c. a day. The amount of fat consumed should be between 40 and 70 grams.  no more than 2 grams of trans fats, no more than 14 grams of saturated fats, which leaves the balance of 24 to 54 grams of unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and/or monounsaturated). Actually, that seems like a lot of fat…yum!?!? Just make sure which ones you are consuming and make sure you focus on the unsaturated fats. See the chart above

Learn to check labels of the foods you eat. Start looking for items with zero trans fats and choose dairy and meat products that are lower in saturated fats (lean red meats, chicken, turkey, etc. )

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