For many years scientists have known about a link between fat intake and heart disease. This discovery has led to many people erroneously reduce fat by cutting all fat from their diet. We now know that not all fat that is harmful, but rather specifically saturated and trans fats that should be limited. In fact, the body needs and greatly benefits from healthy fats, specifically the monosaturated and polyunsaturated varieties.
Benefits of Monosaturated Fat (MUFA)
Many studies have shown that healthy amounts of monounsaturated fats provide many health benefits, including:
- Decreased risk for breast cancer in women, as one Swedish study found that women who had a diet higher in monounsaturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats had less incidence of breast cancer.
- The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of MUFAs because they improve the body’s lipid profile and lower cholesterol.
- Lowers risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Healthy portions of monounsaturated fats support healthy weight loss.
- Monounsaturated fat can help to reduce pain and stiffness for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
- The American Diabetes Association published a study that found diets that include monounsaturated fat helps reduce belly fat versus diets that are high in carbohydrates.
Benefits of Polyunsaturated Fats
According to the American Heart Association, polyunsaturated fats help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which lowers the risk for heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke. Polyunsaturated fats also give us essential nutrients to support cell health. Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats also provide the antioxidant vitamin E, something many Americans lack in their diet.
Additionally, oils rich in polyunsaturated fats provide us with important fats that the body does not produce on its own, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that can only be obtained from food, such as fatty fish and soybean, corn and sunflower oil.
Today we will give you 5 simple changes you can make to reduce your intake of bad fats with healthier substitutions.
Switch from butter to olive oil when cooking
Butter is predominately saturated fat, and for those worried about their cardiovascular health a simple switch to olive oil can make all the difference. Best of all olive oil has a high smoke point meaning that it can be used both at room temperature and in high heat situations such as grilling and pan-frying. However, just because it is a healthier choice does not mean you can splash it all over your food, as all fats and oils containing a massive 9 calories per gram, which can quickly result in weight gain when used in excess.
Watch out for trans fats
The American Heart Association recommends that trans fat intake does not exceed 1% of daily caloric intake. Trans fat clogs arteries, cause high cholesterol, and is the unhealthiest fat. The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is partially hydrogenated oil.
Almost everyone loves the occasional pastry or donut. However, what many people do not realize is these tasty treats are often high in trans fats. Awareness of the long-term health consequences of trans fat consumption has led to many manufacturers and bakeries modifying their recipes and using healthier fats such as those derived from vegetable oils. Next time you visit the bakery, be sure to ask if their products are free of trans fats.
Choose reduced fat dairy products
Consuming dairy products such as milk and cheese is a fantastic way to get the calcium your bones need to prevent fractures as you age. However, many dairy products such as full cream milk are high in saturated fat. Next time you visit the supermarket try making a switch to reduced fat dairy products, they have all the calcium you need and more moderate levels of saturated fat.
Pass on the coconut oil and use canola oil
One of the biggest health fads of 2014 was coconut oil, with social media sites such as Facebook plastered with posts singing its praises. However, what many people fail to realize is that coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat and should only be used in limited quantities. Instead of using coconut oil when cooking, try using canola oil that like coconut oil can be used at high temperatures, but contains far less saturated fat and also provides you with heart healthy monosaturated fat.
Trim your meat
For many people, cutting into a juicy steak is one of the simple pleasures in life, but unfortunately, fatty cuts of meat can often lead to a saturated fat overload. To reduce your intake without passing on the steak, ask your local butcher for lean cuts of meat with minimal visible fat (white marble). In addition, if these are not available simply cut off any visible fat from your meat before placing it on the grill. This way you can have your steak and look after your health at the same time.
Extra Lean Cuts Of Steak And Roast:
- Eye of round
- Bottom round
- Sirloin tip or top sirloin
- Top round
Take home message
The science surrounding dietary fat intake has evolved over time, with current research suggesting that eliminating all fat from our diets is simply not necessary. However, we do know that we should limit our consumption of saturated and trans fats as these are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
To improve your health, be sure to switch from butter to olive oil, watch out for trans fats, choose reduced fat dairy products, pass on the coconut oil, and trim your meat.