The Good Fats Guide
The primary objective of this lesson is to teach you what you need to know about Good Fats, Bad Fats and their significance for your weight management goals and general good health and well-being.
However,before we start, let’s make it clear once and for all a dietary myth about fat :
If you are fat, and you stop eating fat, you will lose your fat,agreed ? That is what you have been told for decades. However, it is simply a myth that won’t die out.
Fortunately, we now have a better understanding about how eating fat causes our bodies to grow and work. There are a lot of misconceptions about fat-filled food products, some pretty common knowledge that makes sense and a lot of grey,unchartered territory containing inconclusive and/or unproven data. This lesson will help you better understand exactly what fat is, and why you should definitely not be cutting it out of your diet, completely.
You will also learn how much fat you should be eating, which fats are “good” and “bad”, and what foods deliver the essential fats your body needs to function properly.
Finally, you will discover just how food manufacturers intentionally trick you into eating massive amounts of unhealthy carbohydrates and bad fats by using sneaky, healthy-sounding words and phrases on food labels.
If you are you ready to finally uncover the truth about fat, so that you can burn fat and regulate your healthy and natural body weight and avoid the long list of diseases that obesity and overweight cause then let’s get started !
What Is Fat ?
You can point to a fat person or animal, and if you are eating a steak with too much marble, it is easy to identify the fat that is there. But that does not necessarily mean you understand exactly what fat is.
To complicate matters further,quotes from popular dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster do not help a lot :
- “Adjective – having a lot of extra flesh on your body; having a lot of body fat; having a full, rounded form; unusually wide or thick”
- “Noun – the soft flesh on the bodies of people and animals that helps keep the body warm and is used to store energy; an oily solid or liquid substance in food”.
That still does not tell you exactly what fat is. In other words, what makes fat? Why is excess fat so deadly in humans? How does it build up, how can we get rid of it, how much is healthy, and should we be eating it at all ?
Dietary Fat Is A Critical Nutrient
A much better definition of fat (in terms of health) can be understood by combining the information found on the WebMD, BetterHealth and MedicalNewsToday websites:
[ Dietary fat is a nutrient that is critical for normal bodily functions and a healthy diet. Trans fats and saturated fats can be unhealthy, while polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated fats are healthy ].
Essential fatty acids, like omega-6 and omega-3,are required for proper health, but your body cannot make them, so you need to supply them in from your diet.
Fat is a component your body needs for energy, and it also allows other nutrients and functions to work properly.(Examples include cholesterol in cell membranes ; Myelin sheath of nerve tissue which is important in transmission of nerve impulses). Refer to the diagramatic summary below obtained from FreeFitnessTips.co.uk :
With this definition you can better understand that there are good and bad fats and that the right types of fats are definitely required for you to live a long, happy and healthy life. Heavily processed food are chemically processed and made from heavily refined ingredients and artificial additives. Such processed foods are the bane of Western civilizations’ diets.They are high in sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. They are designed to make us overeat. Processed foods are often high in trans fats and processed vegetable oils.
To ensure you are eating the right types of foods and not ingesting too many unhealthy fats, you need to understand good and bad fats and the foods that contain or do not contain them.
Which Fats Are Good ?
This probably comes as great news to you ie the fact that there are some “good” fats that you should be eating. Fat adds flavour to foods and in many cases it helps fill you up as well ie feel ‘full’.
So, exactly which fats are healthy for you? Here is a short list:
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats
That’s it ! There are only 2 types of good fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
They are healthy because they are natural and unrefined. They come from plants and animals.
That does not really help you too much, so let’s look at some common food products and liquids that fall under these 2 categories :
A List Of Healthy Fatty Foods
Some common foods rich in monounsaturated fats that are good for you include:
- Canola Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Almonds, Pecans, Peanuts,
- Cashews and other nuts
- Olive Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Peanut Butter
Healthy polyunsaturated fats can be found in:
- Flaxseedo Soy Milk and Soybean Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Pumpkin, Sesame and Sunflower seeds
- Fatty Fish like Salmon, Sardines and Mackerel
- Tofuo Corn Oil
What Makes Fat Healthy ?
It is easy to simply say that these are the fats that are good for you. Exactly what makes them healthy? What type of benefits do they deliver to your body?
Those are a couple of great questions and answering them shows you exactly how positive a physical impact monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can have in your diet.
The essential fatty acids (“EFAs”), vitamins A, D, E and K (aka the fat soluble vitamins) and other healthy minerals and nutrients that good fats deliver are beneficial for the following reasons. They…
- Boost heart health
- Reduce your chances of developing cancer
- Help regulate a natural, healthy body weight
- Promote healthy, younger looking skin
- Foster healthy eyesight
- Aid development in babies, toddlers and children
- Help to reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer’s and other debilitating mental diseases
- Boost a healthy metabolism
- Help you burn excess body fat
- Reduce inflammation
- Regulate a healthy thyroid function
- Fill you up so you don’t go over your daily caloric intake – feel satiated
- Build strong, lean muscle
- Reduce your risk of suffering depression and anxiety
- Regulate a healthy cholesterol level
Eating the right kinds of fat can really impact on all of the amazing health benefits we have just covered. Just remember, don’t go overboard. Both good and bad fats are incredibly calorie-dense. Eating a handful of nuts is healthy for you but sitting down and polishing off an entire can of nuts is definitely not going to be recommended.
If you notice, a lot of the foods listed above are very versatile. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and used in main entrees, side dishes or desserts. Note also that there are quite a few oils on the first list.That may cause you to scratch your head in bewilderment but do’nt worry.
Not all oils are good for you but unlike what you have been told for years, some oils are beneficial for correct health and nutrition.
Now that you know what “good fats” you need to eat more of, let’s cover some unhealthy “bad fats”, the foods that contain them, and the problems they cause.
Which Fats Are Bad ?
The terms “good” and “bad” we use in reference to fats really have no relevance. A fat is not bad or good.However,it can be healthy or unhealthy when you ingest it and add it to your diet or nutrition plan.
Now that you have an idea of some of the fat-filled oils and foods that you should be getting more of, let’s take a look at their ‘evil twins’.All of the bad fats found in foods fall under 1 of 2 categories.
They are either:
- Saturated Fats
- Trans Fats
Again, we have 2 very large and broad categories here. When reading a product label, these unhealthy fats may or may not be listed as saturated or trans. That is why it is important to know the most common food products which negatively impact your health since they contain these not-to-be-recommended unhealthy “bad fats”.
[As a quick reference, you can usually identify trans and saturated fats because they are solid when stored at room temperature (think of a stick of butter or a candy bar). Most polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (canola, peanut and corn oils) are in liquid form at roomtemperature ].
What Makes Fat Unhealthy ?
There are plenty of reasons.
Saturated fats are bad on your heart when taken in excess. Also, since the primary source of trans fats is processed foods, they can be avoided entirely, because they offer NO nutritional value. Bad fats boost your risk of the followingunhealthy conditions and diseases as you will no doubt have already noted from earlier Borromeo lessons and newsletters.
- High cholesterol levels
- Increased risk of multiple heart diseases
- Elevated chance of heart attack and stroke
- Heightened risk of developing type I and type II diabetes
- Greater chance of mental disorders when older
- A much better chance of becoming overweight and obese
- Child birth defects
- Reproductive problems
- Poor skin and hair health
As you can see, there are a lot of problems associated with a diet rich in saturated and trans fats. One way to identify dangerous trans fats is to read your food labels.
Wherever you see the term “partially hydrogenated oil”, you are looking at a sneaky way of saying trans fat.
There are also a lot of terms that food manufacturers use to identify saturated fat. If you are not reading food labels, you are playing Russian roulette with your family’s health.
So, how do you know what to look for when you are checking the labels of food you wish to consider purchasing? That’s a great question and we will cover this in the next section of this lesson.
How to Identify Fats on Food Labels – What to look out for :
The following summary is a handy list of words and phrases used as synonyms for all kinds of good and bad fats in foods :
- Monounsaturated fat = elaidic acid, oleic acid,unsaturated fatty acid
- Polyunsaturated fat = unsaturated fatty acid,pinolenic acid, podocarpic acid
- Saturated fat = hydrogenated fat, saturated fatty acid, butyric acid, lauric acid, myristic acid,palmatic acid, stearic acid
- Trans fat = hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil, mono-diglycerides,vaccenic acid.
[ * Food Label Reading Tip (If the amount of trans fat is not listed, do a little math. Subtract the amount of mono and polyunsaturated fats and saturated fat that is listed on the food label from the total fat content. What’s left is the hidden trans fat in that food. ].
One thing to note about fat identification on food labels is that it is highly regulated. Research that dates back to the 1950s started to cause concern in the medical community about the effect of fatty foods on humans.
However, it was not until 1993 that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States required that both dietary cholesterol and saturated fat be listed on food labels. (Saturated fat has its own separate listing on food labels.)
Thankfully, “trans fats” was added to the list of required food compounds and chemicals on a Nutrition Facts panel in 2006.
So unless there is some hanky-panky going on, you can quickly identify just how much saturated and trans fats are in the foods that you eat.
What About Unlabelled Foods ?
What happens when you buy an Apple, steak or other food product that does not have a food label ?
All you need to do is go online to your favorite search engine. Type in “nutrition facts table” or “nutrition facts for ” , where you fill the blank in with the food you are researching.
Deciphering Individual Ingredients
There is another way to decide how healthy is your your food:
Look at the food label’s list of ingredients. In the United States and many other major countries, the ingredient with the largest percentage present in a particular food product must be listed first. The item with the most insignificant presence is listed last.
So, if,for example, flax seed and oleic acid are listed early in a food label ingredients list, you know you are getting some healthy fats. Likewise, if partially hydrogenated oil or hydrogenated fat is the last item on that ingredients list, it probably does not have a significant presence.
The FDA provides a handy “how to” reference document that teaches you just what to look for when reading food labels.To download a free copy visit the following link written below.
Look Out for Food Labeling Tricks :
There are also another couple of food labeling tricks you should look out for :
- Low-fat and no-fat food products sometimes appear to be extremely healthy. However, flavoring and enticement must be added when that fat is removed or limited. This is almost always in the presence of sugar, and lots of it.The way your body reacts to sugar is by storing it as fat.
Unfortunately, that means when you make what you think it is a smart decision in reaching for a low-fat or no-fat food, you could be packing on the unhealthy pounds.
Low-fat, no-fat and fat-free foods are often times crammed full of unhealthy carbohydrates and higher calorie counts as well. Just make sure to use the food label reading advice you have just learned when considering a fat-free or low-fat purchase.
You will then be able to avoid the unhealthy calorie, carb and fat consequences that come associated with making an un-informed decision.
The Myth about Avoiding Fat
Earlier on we mentioned that there is a common belief about fat consumption promoting fat gain in human beings. It just sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? If you eat fat, you’ll get fat. If you eat lean foods, you’ll be lean.
There is even a nursery rhyme that drives home this unfortunate health myth.In the English language rhyme published in 1639, titled “The Life of Jack Sprat, his Wife, and his Cat” there are the following 2 lines:
“Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.”
In every visual representation of that English rhyme, Jack Sprat is portrayed as an exceptionally skinny man, supposedly due to the fact that he had never eaten fat. His wife is always illustrated as morbidly obese due to the fact that she only ate fatty foods – according to the nursery rhyme.
From what you have read so far in this lesson so far you know that fat,in the correctforms is essential to physical health. Obviously, you are smart enough to know that anyone who eats onlyone particular type of food is going to be unhealthy.
From what you have read so far in this lesson so far you know that fat,in the correct forms is essential to physical health. Obviously, you are smart enough to know that anyone who eats only one particular type of food is going to be unhealthy.
Flash forward nearly 500 years since the travails of Jack and his wife were fictionally chronicled and we unfortunately have a society that believes eating fat makes you fatter.
That is simply not the case, at least not most of the time.
When you eat processed foods full of trans and saturated fats, a lot of things begin to go wrong in your body. Your heart does not work aswell, your respiratory and circular systems suffer, and you can begin to gain fat as a by-product. However, if you simply eat a piece of fat, it will not magically re-appear on your thighs, backside or belly.
When you eat “bad fats”, if you are physically active, get proper rest and stay hydrated, and complement your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole foods and grains there may be no negative impact at all.
The opposite is also true.You may lead a sedentary lifestyle, not always get proper rest and need to drink water more often. You should probably change thoselifestyle habits, but since a full 60% to 70% of your physical fitness level is derived directly through nutrition, you can offset those bad habits by eating right and including proper levels of “good fats” into your diet.
Just remember – a lack of physical activity and the way your body processes and treats sugar is what leads to fat gain
Eating fat does not cause fat gain by itself. Eating too much sugar does.
How Much Fat Should You Be Eating ?
- You understand that eating fat can be beneficial, and eating the right fats is absolutely necessary for optimal health and a long life.
- You also know that you must limit or exclude the presence of trans and saturated fats in your diet.
- You know what foods provide which fats.
- You understand how to read food and nutrition labels which are sometimes intentionally misleading or deceptive.
- You realize that 17th century English nursery rhyme writers had no idea what they were talking about in terms of fat’s effect on the human body.
Now that you are armed with these beneficial truths about fat and nutrition, what should you do next?
It would probably be good to know exactly how much fat you should be eating on a daily basis, so let’s take a look at that now.
Know Your Fat/Carb/Protein Ratio
The way to understand proper fat consumption is by ratios. Everyone is unique. Due to your metabolism, age and genetic make-up, you require a unique number of calories on a daily basis to maintain a healthy body weight.
The Internet provides plenty of average daily calorie recommendation charts for free. For a more specific number you should schedule an appointment with your doctor or health professional.
Once you know that number, simply follow the guidelines below to figure out exactly how much fat you should be eating on a daily basis.
- For children between the ages of 2 and 18, roughly 25% to 35% of daily caloric intake should be fat.
- Adults 19 and over should limit their fat intake to 25% to 30% of their daily calories.
Understand that these are averages only.They are agreed on by respected health organizations, doctors and fitness experts. However, you need to experiment with these numbers, as your situation is unique.
If you are an athlete, a bodybuilder or marathon runner, those 3 physical fitness requirements will demand different fat, protein and carbohydrate ratios.
Looking for a simple alternative option ?
If you are an adult, aim for 30% fat, 40% carbohydrates and 30% protein on a daily basis. Just remember, the more carbs you eat, the more insulin you produce, and hence the more energy your body will store as fat. This includes simple carbohydrates like sugar, and the not-so-healthy fats already discussed in this lesson.
Conclusion: The Real Truth About Fat
As you can see, the real truth about fat is more complicated than many of us would have previously thought.
“Good” and “bad” fats only really fit their description if you are not aware of what you’re eating, and you don’t practice moderation.
Equiping yourself with the knowledge of the benefits of certain fatty foods, and the potential drawbacks of others, means that you will have all you need to make sure that eating fat doesn’t lead to getting fat!
We will close this lesson by refering you to the following infograph presented so as to re-inforce what you have already learnt and understood.
Fats-the Good,the Bad & the Ugly
*** Now that you are eager to attempt the quiz for Lesson 17, click HERE.Good Luck !