Fat and oils play an important role in adding taste and variety to our daily diet. However, health experts worldwide agree that most urbanised people eat far more fat than they should. A high intake of fats together with a sedentary lifestyle can lead to the development of obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure.
But if fats and oils are so bad for us, why don’t we cut them from our diet completely? Fats and oils are needed by the body for three important functions.
Gram for gram, fats and oils provide more energy than carbohydrates or proteins. Once eaten, the body does not have to work very hard to store fats, and they find their way in to the body’s cells very easily.
This is why it is so easy to gain weight if you eat high-fat meals/foods, because (a) the high-fat foods are so high in energy (calories), and (b) the body uses very little energy storing the fat in the body’s cells.
Fat is important as part of a mixed eating plan; but just because a little is good, do not think that more is better.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
There are certain fatty acids that your body cannot make. These fatty acids must therefore come from the food you eat. The most important of these fatty acids are omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acids and omega-3 (linolenic) fatty acids.
Omega 6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils (maize, sunflower), while omega-3 fatty acids are found in canola oil, salmon, mackerel, and herring.
Fatty acids are used by the body to make hormones that help to reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases.
There are many different vitamins needed by the body, and some of these are only found in fats and oils. These vitamins are known as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are found in margarine, eggs, dairy products and liver.
FAT DOES NOT TASTE OILY!
Not all food that has a high fat content will taste fatty, oily or greasy. Pastries, chocolate and ice-cream are examples of high fat foods that taste sweet rather than fatty.
Read food labels to determine how much fat is contained in the product.
SO HOW MUCH FAT SHOULD WE BE EATING?
Your Weigh-less formula has been designed to supply you with enough fat serves to meet your body’s needs for energy, essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE EAT TOO MUCH FAT?
Apart from causing weight gain, an excessive intake of saturated fats has been shown to promote the deposit of cholesterol within the walls of the blood vessels. This deposited cholesterol narrows the blood vessels, making the passage of blood difficult, causing hypertension.
A stroke or heart attack will occur, should the blood vessels become blocked and blood flow cease. When the diet is adjusted so that total fat content is decreased and saturated animal fats are replaced with unsaturated plant fat, the depositing of cholesterol in the blood vessels is minimised.
HOW DO WE FIT FATS AND OILS INTO OUR DAILY EATING PLAN?
Weigh-Less has made it easy for you to choose foods that are low in saturated fats and/or high in unsaturated fats – just look for the HEART symbol when planning your daily meals, and choose these foods in preference to those without the mark.
Heart-marked foods also include foods that have prove to lower blood cholesterol levels (such as oats, legumes and fatty fish).
How To Eat Less Fat
HERE ARE LOTS OF SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT WAYS TO REDUCE THE FAT IN YOUR DIET.
- Choose a low or reduced fat spread rather than butter or margarine, but don’t be tempted to put more on because it’s lower in fat, it will only defeat the purpose. If you can’t get away from using butter, try spreading it more thinly, or sometimes none at all, eg in sandwiches or beans on toast.
- Use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk instead of whole milk. Both have just as much calcium and protein but much less fat. Try using low-fat yoghurt instead of cream and try half-fat hard cheese or cottage cheese instead of full-fat hard cheese.
- Avoid chips. If you have to eat them, cut them thick and straight and fry them in an oil that is high in unsaturates and ensure that they are from your daily allowance. Drain the chips well once cooked, and blot away any extra oil by using kitchen paper. Rice and pasta are better alternatives.
- Use smaller quantities of meat and fill up on lots of vegetables, rice, pasta or potatoes.
- Try microwaving, steaming, poaching, boiling or grilling instead of roasting and frying. If you have to fry, use a non-stick pan, so you can dry-fry without any oil at all.
- Eat more fish. Grill, microwave, steam or bake rather than deep-frying in batter. Chicken and turkey are low in fat as long as the skin is removed.
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