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The Hidden Fats You Don’t Know About In Your Diet

We are all familiar with the fact that pizza, French fries and cheese burgers all contain high amounts of fat; but did you know that even healthy fish and certain vegetables can contain a high level of fat? It is important to bear in mind that fat is an essential part of a healthy diet; and although not all fat is bad, it is wise to evaluated the fat content of your meals in the same way you evaluate the calories.

How Much Fat Is Okay?

Paying attention to the number of grams of fat you eat each day will help you to make sure that your body is getting the correct amount of fat it needs and no more than that.

According to Anne Wolf, RD who is a researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the recommendation is that the fat content in your diet should form no more than 30% of your total daily calories. Taking the average daily calorie intake of 2,000 calories, this means that most of us should not be eating more than 65 grams of fat per day. Wolf says we are typically eating far more fat than we need.

There are two kinds of fats which are generally considered good fats and bad fats. Trans and saturated fats are not good for us since they are linked to a number of health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The good fats – unsaturated fats – can actually provide protection to your body from some of these conditions. Having said that, this does not mean that there is no limit to how much of these you can eat. Too much of any fat can lead to weight gain.

When tracking the fat content of your meals, take care to make sure that the majority of the fat you ingest is in the form of unsaturated fats. Saturated fats should form no more than 20 grams of your total, and you should eat hardly any trans fats at all.

Fat In Everyday Foods

If you take into account the types of foods that regularly make up your daily meals, think about the fat content. There are the details on the fat content in some of the most commonly eaten foods:

The average fast-food hamburger contains 36 grams of fat

The average fast-food fish sandwich contains 24 grams of fat

Just 10 French fries contain 8 grams of fat

Just one ounce of potato chips contains a whopping 10 grams of fat

Once slice of cheese pizza contains 8 grams

Two ounces of bologna contains 16 grams of fat

One hot dog contains 14 grams

Three slices of cooked bacon contains 10 grams of fat

One ounce of cheddar cheese contains 8 grams of fat

One cup of whole milk contains 7 grams

Two tablespoons of peanut butter contains 14 grams of fat

One teaspoon of butter or margarine contains 4 grams of fat

One serving of most cereals, bagels and breads contains approximately 1 gram of fat

Although some of these numbers may not look too bad, bear in mind the serving sizes of each food. For example, it is highly unlikely you will eat just 10 French fries or only one slice of pizza.

High Fat Foods That Will Surprise You

The foods mentioned above are no surprise when it comes to fat content; but there are a number of foods that you may not realize contain high fat levels.

Movie theater popcorn

Packaged meals that come with added oil, butter or sauces

Red meats that have a lot of white marbling (the marbling is fat)

The skin of chicken and other poultry

Salad dressings

The biggest culprits when it comes to hidden fat sources are pre-packaged meals and snack foods. These often contain the dangerous trans fats which are generally listed in the ingredients as vegetable shortening or partially hydrogenated oil and are the reason these foods have a longer shelf life. Trans fats are extremely unhealthy and bad for your cholesterol levels and your heart.

It is common knowledge that vegetable oils and olive oil are high in fat; and avocados, olives, nuts and certain types of fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon also contain high amounts of fats. However, the fats in these foods are all unsaturated (good) fats; although it is still important to control how much of these you eat in order to maintain your weight.

Considering the high fat content of so many foods, it can be easy to exceed the daily fat allowance by lunchtime! If you are aware of you fat intake and choose foods that contain unsaturated fats instead of trans and saturated fats, you will be protecting your heart health and be maintaining a healthy weight at the same time.

Mary D. Jordan / February 11, 2015 / Fat-fighting


The Battle Of The Fats. Good Fats VS Bad Fats

For many years it was widely believed that all fat should be avoided. Unsaturated fat, saturated fat and trans fat were all considered equally bad. However, with advancement in science it has now been discovered that fat, and the way in which our bodies process it, is much more complex than previously thought.

In order to function optimally, our bodies need some fat – but it needs the right kinds of fats, and it needs them in moderation. While some fats should be avoided at all costs, some fats are actually good for you. Which Is Which?

According to Alexa Schmitt, RD from the Massachusetts General Hospital where she works as a clinical nutritionist, polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats are good fats, and saturated fats should be consumed in moderation. However, trans fats should be avoided completely since they increase cholesterol levels. This comes with an increase in a variety of health conditions and illnesses including heart disease and stroke when levels of certain kinds of cholesterol are increased. Particularly dangerous is the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol which is also known as “bad” cholesterol.

How To Know Which Food Contain Which Fats? As an overall guide, according to Schmitt fats that are liquid when they are at room temperature such as olive oil are a better option than those that are semi-solid at room temperature such as margarine and butter. The following tips can help you to choose a diet that is rich in polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats while being low in trans fats.

Monounsaturated Fat
Sources: olive oils, canola, avocados and most nuts.

Tips: Instead of spreading cream cheese on your bagel, choose avocado. When making mashed potatoes, instead of using butter and whole milk, use garlic and olive oil.

Polyunsaturated Fat
The two types of poly-unsaturated fat are: omega-3 and omega-6. The average American diet contains plenty of omega-6 fats from vegetable oils, so the focus needs to be on omega-3. The best sources of omega-3 fats are flaxseed, walnuts, and fish such as tuna and salmon.

Tips: Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.
Eat a handful of walnuts as a snack.
Add ground flaxseed to your baking mixtures.

Saturated Fat
Fatty meats like salami, red meat and dairy products such as butter and cream are all sources of saturated fats, along with thicker vegetable oils such as kernel oil, palm oil and coconut oil.

Tips: While you may still enjoy a steak occasionally, try to keep saturated fats to 10% or less of your daily diet.

Trans Fat
This fat is the result of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. The purpose of this process is to extend the shelf life of packaged and processed foods which include bakery products like crackers and cookies.

Tips: The current guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mean that if a product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving they may call their product “trans fat free”. Check the food labels on processed food for “partially hydrogenated” and “hydrogenated oils in the list of ingredients since these words indicate that the food may have up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. If you eat just a few servings, you are ingesting a substantial amount of tans fat.

It is wise to be an educated and aware shopper. Try to do most of your shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh food is located, and limit your visits to the inside aisles where the trans fat foods are kept. Sticking to fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits along with fresh whole grains from the bakery and lean cuts of fish and meat will improve your level of healthy fat.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Fat-fighting