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Getting the Fats Right

Will you flunk the “fats facts” test?

“Low fat is better.” “I’m too fat! I need to eat oily foods.” “I should cut fats from my diet completely.” Sound familiar? You’ve probably heard people around you utter these words before, or you may have thought them yourself. Here’s a heads-up: these statements may not only be untrue, they are also potentially dangerous! Get the facts on fats here.

MYTH #1

Fat is bad for our bodies.

Not true. Our bodies need a certain amount of fat as it serves as an energy store, a cushion for vital organs and a transport system for fat-soluble vitamins. Our brain, nerves, and immune system need omega-3, a type of fatty acid. Omega-9 helps lower bad cholesterol, helping to keep your heart healthy. We need fat and to make hormones. We also need fat during digestion to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Without fat, these valuable vitamins will be lost!Bag of oil bottles

MYTH #2

The healthiest diet is one without fats.

Research has shown that the total amount of fat in the diet isn’t really linked with weight or disease. What really matters is the type of fat and the total calories in the diet. Also, just because the label says “fat-free” does not mean it is low in calories. To make up for the lack of taste and texture in certain “fat-free” foods, some food makers tend to pour other ingredients – especially sugar, flour, thickeners, and salt – into their products. Some of us tend to eat more “non-fat” and “low fat” foods because we think there’s no way to get fat eating these. The truth is, the calories still add up. Before getting your next “fat-free” food, check its ingredient list and make sure it isn’t loaded with sugar or additives.

Let’s have a look at an American case study:Screen shot 2015-01-05 at AM 10.18.41

MYTH #3

The more fat I eat, the more weight I put on.

Again, the amount of fat we eat does not impact our weight, cholesterol levels, or risk of heart disease, nearly as much as what kind of fat we eat. Most unsaturated fats – found in vegetable oils, avocados and peanuts – are good for you, but saturated fats are bad in excess. This is why olive oil, which is 100% unsaturated fat, is healthier than pancake mix, which contains 11% saturated fat. That said, trans fat is an artificially created type of unsaturated fat which increases our risk of heart disease by increasing bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol in our bodies (a double whammy). Steer clear of trans fat by avoiding items with “partially hydrogenated” fats in their ingredient lists.

So…how much fat do I need?

Fat should make up about 25% to 30% of our total energy intake. Based on a typical 2000kcal diet, the total fat allowance is about 55 – 65g a day. It’s easy to exceed this allowance if one is not mindful – if you have a curry puff for breakfast, a bowl of laksa for lunch and a plate of chicken rice for dinner, you would have already consumed 70g of fat.

Opt for more “good” fats, such as:

  • monounsaturatedfat (from olives and avocado)
  • omega-3 polyunsaturatedfat (from oily fish, walnuts and linseed)
  • omega-6 polyunsaturatedfat (from fish, linseed, margarine and sunflower oil)iStock_000009847165_Largesalad with beef tomatoes and fetaFood with unsaturated fats
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Kelly Ng
Posted by ezyhealth on Jan 9 2015. Filed under Myth Busters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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