Animal and plant-derived food products contain fat, and when eaten in moderation, fat is important for proper growth, development, and maintenance of good health. Be moderate in eating all types of fat, because fats contain more than twice the calories of either protein or carbohydrate.
All types of fat contain an equal amount of calories, however some fat types are much more harmful to your health and body than other types. The most harmful type of fats are saturated fat and trans fat, these fats will increase your chance of developing a heart disease. More than 12.5 million Americans have Chronic heart disease (CHD), and more than 500,000 will die each year from it. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people obtain as much of their daily fat intake as possible from unsaturated fats and limit saturated type fats and trans fats. A law passed states that from January 1, 2006 all food companies must include the content of fat amounts on the food labels.
Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don't is the first major step in lowering your chance of heart disease. Saturated fat, trans-fatty acids and dietary cholesterol raise blood cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats do not raise your blood cholesterol level.
There are two main types of fat:
Saturated and trans fats:
These fats are solid at room temperature and are contained in food products like butter, shortening, or the fat on meat products. Some types of oils like palm kernel oil and coconut oil, contain saturated fat. Whole dairy foods also contain trans fats.
Trans fat is formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils, a process called hydrogenation which increases the shelf life and flavor of food containing these fats. Trans fats can be found in many types of pre-packaged items, like cookies, crackers and potato chips. Trans fats are also found in many fried foods such as french fries and doughnuts. Saturated fat and trans fat raise blood cholesterol levels, increasing a person's risk of developing heart disease.
These fats are in a liquid form when at room temperature and in the refrigerator, they can be polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats help your body rid itself of newly formed cholesterol. They keep your blood cholesterol level down and reduce cholesterol deposit build up in your artery walls. Examples of polyunsaturated fats include - fish and fish oil, sunflower oils, corn and soybean. Monounsaturated fat is found in olives, olive and canola oil, most types of nuts and their oils and avocados.
Is butter better for you than margarine?
Both the saturated fat in butter and the trans fat in margarines can raise your blood cholesterol levels.
Remember the following:
The softer the butter or margarine the better.
Whipped butter has less saturated fat than stick type butter.
Liquid and soft tub margarine contain very little saturated fat or trans fat.
When cooking substitute an unsaturated oil for butter or margarine.
Reducing the amount of trans fats in your diet.
Reducing total fat intake generally will help lower your intake of saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol.
Reducing trans fat intake should not be accomplished by substituting food higher in saturated fats in the diet.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may be substituted while keeping total fat intake moderate.
Most fish are lower in saturated fat than meat. Some fish, such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon, contain helpful omega-3 fatty acids.
A third of all calories consumed are now being eaten outside the family home, in places like restaurants, cafeterias, convenience stores, snack bars and fast-food outlets.