Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Don't munch on bacon sandwiches, have steak with butter and drink whole milk: The fats that you SHOULD be eating and the ones you must avoid

If there's one healthy eating message we are suddenly being bombarded with, it's that fats are now good for us.
But the true picture is not quite so simple. In fact, while we all need a certain amount of fat in our diet, we still shouldn't be including too much in our diets.
But from nut and coconut to plant and animal fats, which are are the right types? And how much should we be eating?

 Experts claim the real message we should all be heeding is that we need to be eating the right amount of the right type of fats.
A report last month in the British Medical Journal revealed that saturated fat can be good for you.
The study proved that people who eat butter, milk, cream and full-fat yoghurts generally have better heart health and less risk of Type 2 diabetes.

 It goes against old guidelines from 1983, which warned Britons to adopt a low-fat diet aimed at reducing deaths from heart disease.
In fact, now some scientists even say the advice - which lacked any solid trial evidence to back it up - is responsible, in part, for the obesity crisis because it encouraged an increase in carbohydrate in our diets.

Dr Marilyn Glenville (UK’s leading nutritionist and author of Fat Around the Middle) told FEMAIL: 'The three main types of fat are saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
'We need all three in our diets, but because some are better for us than others it's important to become aware of the amounts of which fats you are eating.'
All fats are composed of all three types of these fats in different proportions. To make matters even more complicated, some fats are healthier to cook with than others.


Without fat we would miss out on vital nutrients - the vitamins A, D and E - and what are known as essential fatty acids which are needed to prevent or control all kinds of ailments and conditions such as heart disease, cancers, immune system deficiencies, arthritis, skin complaints, PMS and menopausal symptoms.

The average intake of fat in Britain is currently almost 40 per cent of our total daily calorie intake. In fact, the Department of Health advises that this should be a maximum of 33 per cent. This equates to 71g a day for women and 93.5g a day for men. Women on a diet should reduce this to around 50g a day. But this is not the whole picture. There are different types of fat and you should try to eat more
of some of these fats and less of others.

Milk - If you’re drinking milk, it’s better to opt for full-fat rather than reduced fat versions. You are allowed up to half a pint of full-fat milk a day. Full-fat milk will make you feel fuller for longer and studies have shown that some of the fatty acids in milk products can help regulate weight.

Eggs – Contrary to popular belief, eggs are actually good for you and can be consumed up to four times a week, experts say. Studies have shown that dietary cholesterol does not increase cholesterol levels in the blood so the next time you fancy an omelette, you should give in to your craving.

Olive Oil – While it is safe to dress your salads with it, olive oil becomes carcinogenic when heated and should never be used for frying. Its low smoke point causes carcinogens so the next time you’re planning on cooking with oil, opt for rapeseed or sunflower.

Red Meat – It all depends on where your red-meat comes from. Check the labels – 100g three to four times a week is fine but only if the animal has been reared on a grass-diet.

Carbohydrates – We were once told that they should make up to half of your daily food intake but the advice has now been discounted. Steer clear of white carbohydrates and choose wholegrains instead. Foods such as white rice, pasta and bread convert into sugar, which puts the body at risk of Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Processed meat – This is a definite no. Processed meats contain high amounts of trans-fats and also have high levels of salt. So as delicious as that bacon sandwich or Parma ham is, there really is no nutritional benefit when it comes to eating it.

Yoghurt – Like milk, choose full-fat over low fat if you want to reap the rewards of this food. Low-fat yoghurts are full of sugar to replace the taste of the fats which have been removed from it.

Fruit juice – Touted as a health benefit, fruit juice is actually bad for you. Even if you are juicing your own, the process of extracting liquid from the fruit causes the loss of fibre, which is where all the fruit’s nutrional benefits are. When you juice you are also consuming more fruit (and thus sugar) than you would consume if you were actually eating it.

Chocolate – Very good for the heart but only have ones with 70 per cent or more cocoa content. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are full of fat and sugar with hardly any cocoa so its best not to indulge.

Butter – It’s better to have it in small amounts than it is to opt for margarine or low-fat spreads.
Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are the type of fats that are naturally solid at room temperature and are found in the greatest quantities in animal products such as dairy and meats, and in manufactured goods such as cakes, biscuits and pies.

Taken in excess, saturated fat has been shown to raise levels of 'bad' cholesterol, one of the main contributors to heart disease, and has also been linked to cancer and obesity.

According to Dr Glenville, there are two types of cholesterol: ‘There are two types of cholesterol, good and bad. Good cholesterol is known as HDL, which stands for High-density lipoprotein.
'Bad cholesterol is known as LDL or low density lipoprotein. Almonds, Vitamin B3 and green tea can help in the reduction of LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’ vitamin B3 also helps increase HDL or good cholesterol,’ she said.

Polyunsaturated Fats 

Most polyunsaturated fats are contained in fats that are liquid at room temperature or cooler. Vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and walnut oil are all high in polyunsaturated fats.

These fats have the opposite effect of saturated fats as they lower the bad cholesterol in our blood. But, they are not entirely good for us.

In fact, research in the last ten years has shown that polyunsaturated fats can increase the amount of free radicals in our bodies - the rogue cells which can increase the risk of cancers and other diseases.
This is particularly true when these fats are used in cooking as the Omega-6 fatty acid, in its liquid form becomes unstable.

But despite this, there are some polyunsaturated fats which are absolutely essential in our bodies - called essential fatty acids (EFAs).

‘Polyunsaturated fats can be split into two types; Omega-6 and Omega-3 oils,' Dr Grenville explained.

'Omega-6 oils are found in nuts and seeds, and also evening primrose oil, star flower and borage oil,' she said.

'These EFAs help prevent blood clots and keep the blood thin, they can also reduce inflammation and so are vital in preventing arthritis,' she continued.
Omega-3 oils are particularly important.

These fats - found most commonly in oily fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna and trout - reduce the blood's tendency to clot thus helping to prevent heart disease and strokes.
‘Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish, such a mackerel, almonds and sardines. And if you are a vegetarian  you can still get them from flaxseeds, (linseeds) and soya, but the levels are lower than they would be in fish,’ Dr Grenville said.

‘You will also get even less goodness from these foods if you are stressed, drinking too much alcohol or not getting enough key nutrients, like zinc magnesium and vitamin B6,' she said.
‘Omega-3 oils can help lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, soften the skin, increase immune function, increase metabolic rate, improve energy and help with eczema.'

 Monounsaturated Fats 

Monounsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature, but may harden when cooled.
These are most commonly found in olive oil, rapeseed oil and groundnut oil, olives, nuts and avocados.

These fats are now thought to be even more effective at lowering cholesterol than polyunsaturated fats and are also thought to be associated with lower levels of obesity, fewer cancers and longer life.
Because of all these factors it is generally recommended that we all try to replace some of the saturated fats in our diet with monounsaturated fats and that we try to cook with these fats rather than polyunsaturated fats.

‘Monounsaturated fats (Omega-9 fats) are not classed as EFA but they can have health benefits,' Dr Grenville said.

'They are called monounsaturated because they only have one double bond. Olive oil for example is high in monounsaturated fats, which have been found to lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise ‘good’ cholesterol,’ she explained.

Foods high in saturated fats
Animal meats; butter; animal fat; chocolate; fish oils; cheese; cream, nuts, mayonnaise; palm oil; coconut oil.

Foods high in transfats
Fried food; fast food; non-dairy creamer; ready-made cake mixes; frozen food; margarine; ready-made cookie dough; microwave popcorn; processed meats such as bacon, ham, burgers and sausages.

Food high in unsaturated fats
Peanut butter; olives; avocado; sesame seeds, oils like olive, sesame, peanut and  canola.

Foods high in polyunsaturated fats:
Walnuts; seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds; flaxseed; fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel; safflower, soybean and corn oil.

Foods high in monsounsaturated fats
Oils such as olive; sunflower; safflower, hazelnut; canola and avocado.

Various nuts includng hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, almonds, pistachios, cashews.
Fish such as halibut, mackerel, Atlantic herring.

Foods high in polyunsaturated fats
Flaxeed; walnuts, salmon; and tuna.

Trans Fats 

Related to these three main types of fat are trans fats. Trans fats are unsaturated fats which have been hydrogenated (had hydrogen added to them).

This process usually happens in food processing, particularly in the production of hard margarines. There is increasing evidence that trans fats are probably the worst of all fats for our health.
Dr Glenville said: 'With no nutritional benefits at all, these are the worst fats and should be avoided at all costs.

‘Found in many processed foods to prolong shelf life, they might appear on the label as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
‘Trans fats are linked to an increase in heart disease and are terrible for your general health as they harden cells and arteries.

'They also cause fat to gather around the mid-section, even if you are sticking to a low calorie diet and block absorption of EFA’s, which are needed to overcome insulin resistance.‘