Quality over quantity fat

By theghanaianjournal
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President of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, René Smalberger, says current scientific evidence supports the view that we should not only look at the total amount of fats in our diets, but also the quality of the fats we consume.

Speaking at a media briefing hosted by the South African arm of global nutrition authority, the International Union of Nutritional Sciences, Smalberger said: "In simple terms, not all fat is bad. Some of it is essential for our bodies to function optimally and cannot be created by the body itself, while other fat is good, but only if taken in the correct daily quantities."

Smalberger said different types of fats are classified according to their chemical composition and the effect they have on human health when consumed.

Fat quality refers to the type of fats in the food that we eat. Foods with a low fat quality are foods with a relatively high content of saturated (unhealthy) fat as compared to good and essential (healthy) fats, whereas other foods have a more desirable fat quality, or a relative high content of good and essential fats as compared to saturated fats.

"One can recognise products with a good fat quality by the fact that they are spreadable or liquid even straight from the fridge, whereas foods with a low fat quality are usually even solid at room temperature, with coconut milk as the exception," said Smalberger.

Know your fats from your fats
"Consumers should familiarise themselves with the various food sources of dietary fats to ensure that they remain in good health and avoid largely preventable chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

"Fats do play an important role in the body and should not be totally cut out of the diet. The emphasis should rather be on limiting the bad ones, and making sure that you do have enough of the good ones in the diet," she said.

According to Smalberger the latest recommendations for daily fat intake and quality, in line with authoritative international health bodies and current evidence, are as follows for those from the age of about two onwards.

Total fat may provide up to 30 percent of the daily energy intake, provided the energy balance between intake and expenditure is adequate.

Saturated fat should provide no more than 10 percent of the daily energy intake. This means animal fats should be limited, or opt for lower fat choices such as low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, lean meat cutlets, skinless chicken, and good quality soft tub margarines.

In those at risk of cardiovascular disease the intake of saturated fat should be less than seven percent of total daily energy. Try avoid high fat meat and poultry, dairy products like cream, butter, and full and tow percent milk, and some plant foods like coconut and palm oil.

Polyunsaturated fats, including essential fats like omega 3 and omega 6, should contribute between six and 10 percent of the daily energy intake.

Of this contribution, Omega 6 fatty acids should provide five to eight percent of energy. Sources include vegetable oils and some tub margarines. In small amounts omega 6 fatty acids can keep skin and eyes healthy.

Trans fats should be limited
The remaining polyunsaturated fats contribution should come from Omega 3 fatty acids at between one and two percent of energy. Good food sources here include fatty fish such as sardines, salmon and herring, as well as mackerel, flax seed oil, canola oil, soybean oil and nuts, especially walnuts.

In addition to lowering your bad cholesterol, these omega-3 fatty acids boost brain function and may help strengthen your immune system and improve your mood.

The intake of trans fats should be less than one percent of the daily energy intake. Foods traditionally containing trans fats include certain hard brick margarines, fried and baked potato chips and certain commercially baked products and biscuits.

Look out for the description 'trans fats' or 'partially hydrogenated vegetable oil' on the food label — this pseudonym actually means trans fats.

Trans fats are made from unsaturated fat that has undergone an industrial process that makes liquid vegetable oils more solid and prolongs the shelf life of packaged foods. These fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, substantially increasing the chances of heart disease.

The remainder of the energy from fat should be provided by mono-unsaturated fats, from sources including olive oil and olives, canola oil, almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter, sesame seeds, avocados or avocado oil, and soft or tub margarine made from canola or olive oil. These fats raise good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol, and protect against the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

What should your diet look like?
This means that for an average 35-year-old man with a height of 175cm and weight of 73kg, or an average 35-year-old woman 165cm tall and weighing 58kg, a typical good fat healthy daily intake could consist of the following:

Breakfast: One cup cooked oats porridge with 1 cup low-fat/skim milk.

Mid-morning snack: One fruit and a few low-fat crackers or 1 fruit and a few nuts.

Lunch: One to two whole wheat sandwiches with a suitable filling and soft tub margarine and one quarter of an avocado.

Mid-afternoon snack: One fruit and a few low fat crackers or 1 fruit and a few nuts/ seeds mix.

Dinner: Grilled chicken without the skin, rice, butternut and a salad with balsamic and olive oil dressing.

After supper snack: One fruit or dried fruit.
Article By: iafrica.com