All Fats are NOT Created Equal
What’s the Deal with Fats?
One thing you must be aware of when trying to live L.E.A.N., is the kinds of fats you are eating. Some fats are good, and some are bad. We do actually need to eat fats to survive. The USDA guidelines recommend adults get 20-35% of their calories from fats. That sounds like a lot! The issue is that most Americans consume around 40% from fat, and too often the wrong kinds.
Good fats are found in many natural foods, including avocado, olive oil and fish oil. These are unsaturated fats. Within unsaturated fats there are polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Add to the good fats list hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds; and both canola and peanut oils.
The worst of all fats, is trans-fat. Trans-fat, a man-made fat, has been given a lot of attention recently but it has been part of our lives for decades. Anything listing hydrogenated oils as an ingredient has trans-fat. All margarine, until recently, was pure trans-fat. Too many people, thinking and being told that butter was terribly bad for them switched to margarine and ate what some call “edible plastic”.[i] Our bodies have no efficient way to metabolize trans-fat, it’s so unnatural. In fact, it behaves like a saturated fat in the body.[ii] Yet, since it was so convenient for manufacturers, it was put into everything from potato chips to Oreos. Even now, most of the oil used to fry our favorite goodies at fast food restaurants, and even the majority of sit-down restaurants, is trans-fat. Why? It doesn’t spoil as quickly and is cheaper to use.
While good for the corporations and kitchens using it, trans-fat is now known to be deadly to people. The recommended daily intake by the FDA is 0%.[iii] How many things to they say that about, except perhaps arsenic or maybe cyanide!? Thankfully laws are being created to stop the use of trans-fat, but anyone interested in improving their health should be on the look out for this very, very bad fat.
So is butter bad? Too much butter is bad, for most people. Real butter is actually better than some things.[iv] As a general rule, though, animal fats need to be taken in moderation as they contain what’s called saturated fat. That goes for red meats, eggs, and even dairy products. In these cases it’s always best to look for the L.E.A.N. version. Low fat cheese is better than full fat, and the same goes for milk. Lean ground beef is far better than the cheaper, regular option. Even better, go for some ground turkey or chicken – similar texture, with much less unhealthy saturated fat. As a rule, try to keep your saturated fats to just 7% of your daily calories. The less, the better.
[i] Harvard University, Health Beat: Butter vs. Margarine, http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/HEALTHbeat_062106.htm
[ii] FDA, What you Need to Know – http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079609.htm
[iv] See footnote [ii]