Health & Wellness, Nutrition & Diet

Saturated Fat

The main dietary factor in high levels of cholesterol is high levels of saturated fats in the diet. But what, exactly, IS saturated fat? If saturated fat in the diet is an important predictor of cardiovascular disease (and it is!), what can be done to reduce it in the diet? Perhaps by answering the first question, it is easier to answer the second question. Saturated fat is a fat that is, well, saturated… with hydrogen. And remember that fatty acids influence the composition of fats in the body as well as the triglyceride levels (the fats in the blood). The level of saturation of a fat is generally demonstrated by its texture at room temperature. The more saturated a fat is, the more firm or solid it is at room temperature. Conversely, the more Unsaturated a fat is, the more LIQUID it is at room temperature. A good example of a saturated fat is the fat that you might trim from a piece of beef or pork. An example of an unsaturated fat is oil such as safflower oil. The cloudier an oil becomes in the refrigerator, for example, the more fat is contained in the oil. Much of the saturated fat that finds its way into our food is added during the preparation process (French fries are a good example!). This does not mean, however, that good food choices are not just as important as good food preparation techniques. Here are some tips for reducing saturated fats in the diet: 1) Purchase and/or use only lean cuts of meats. Trim excess fat before preparation. 2) Use heart friendly cooking oils such as safflower oil and olive oil when preparing foods and use them in moderation. 3) Cook with broth, fruit juice or even wine (in moderation) instead of oils and butter where possible. 4) When using pan drippings for gravies or sauces, always use a defatting cup (available at most kitchen supply stores) to avoid excess fat. 5) Reduce levels of butter, lard and other ”fatty” ingredients in recipes where possible. In some cases (but not all), reducing butter and oils by half will still produce a satisfactory flavor and texture. Experiment a little to see ”how low you can go”! 6) Check ingredients of prepared foods (in other words, read the label) to find ”hidden fat” that, many times, is disguised using a technique called ”emulsification” (mixing fat with water to give it a thinner texture). 7) Determine how many grams of fat you can consume in a day and not exceed 30% of your daily calories. For saturated fat, keep your daily consumption at or below 10% of your total daily calories. For example, a gram of fat contains 9 calories. Therefore, a 2,000 calorie daily eating plan would contain NO MORE than 600 calories from fat (30% of 2,000) or approximately 66 grams of fat. Saturated fat would be no more than 22 to 23 grams per day (10% of 2,000 calories) and included in the TOTAL fat intake. The average American consumes nearly 42% of their calories from fat-much of it in the form of saturated fat. This unhealthy consumption is a function of addiction to convenience foods, larger portions (super sizing etc.) and apathy. With the knowledge contained in this article-and just a little willpower-isn’#39;t it time to eat healthier? The changes necessary to improve the diet are simple and easy to learn. Evaluate your diet today. Chapter Four in ”Be Fit, Stay Fit” provides a simple Eating Plan Diary and an Eating Plan Analysis to help you get started on an eating plan that you can live with. Give it a try and you’#39;ll learn just how simple these eating plan changes can be.