Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Skinny on Fat

O Organics Old Fashioned Creamy Peanut Butter, 18 Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)Along with many other things in the American diet, I think we need to reevaluate the role fat plays in our lives. It came to my attention yesterday when I heard a girl comment on how disgusting her friend’s protein shake was because he added peanut butter to it. I could understand if you didn’t like peanut butter, but she said it had too much fat. 
She commented on how high in calories it was because of the peanut butter. He responded with the fact that he wasn’t worried about the calories because they were healthy calories and he had run 8.5 miles that morning. I silently agreed with the man, and laughed to myself as the girl went on about how high in fat and oil the peanut butter was. I finally said: but it’s good fat. She replied: it’s still fatSo today I would like to present to you the skinny on fat.

I read somewhere that, "eating fat does not turn into fat in your body the same way that eating brains will not make you smarter." It sounds pretty simple since most people wouldn't eat brains, but why does fat get that bad rap?
All fats are not created equal. Just like carbs, there are beneficial fats and detrimental fats. In general, “bad” fats are the ones you find in processed foods: french fries, candy bars, ice cream, etc. “Good” fats are the ones you’ll find in pure, natural foods: nuts, pure nut and plant oils, fish, and vegetables like avocados and olives. Pretty simple, right?
Healthy fats benefit you. Unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats and Omega-3 fats provide great benefits to your body. They help regulate your blood sugar, improve your mood and cognitive function, protect your joints and nourish your skin. It has been proven that two servings of fatty nuts can alleviate mild depression. Most of these are best eaten raw, though. Even oils commonly used for cooking such as olive and canola are no longer beneficial once exposed to heat. These work best at low heat or when used as a salad dressing. 
Eliminate trans fats and saturated fats. Things that are processed, pre packaged or deep fried usually contain one or both of these types of fat. If you're worried about the fat from adding some avocado to your burrito, you might want to worry more about the lard in the tortilla. High fat meat and dairy also fall into these categories.

Read labels: anything “hydrogenated” is not going to benefit you. This process takes fats and infuses them with hydrogen to make them more shelf stable. This process makes the products difficult to digest triggering an array of problems from heart disease to cancer. The maximum daily amount of trans fats anyone should consume is 2 grams, but the FDA only requires labeling if the product contains more than .5 grams per serving. Considering this, a person could consume 4 servings of things claiming to have “0 grams trans fat per serving” and reach or exceed the healthy limit without knowing it. This is why it is so important to read the ingredients on packaged foods. If it has no package (i.e. fresh produce, nuts, beans, etc.) it’s probably free of bad fats.
Lay's - Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips - 10.5 oz
Pair fats with carbs. WHAT!?!? No, we’re not talking donuts, here. We’re talking fruits, vegetables and whole grains - duh! Simple sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly, but pairing a simple sugar (like fruit) with a healthy fat (like nuts) lowers the glycemic index of the food helping your body absorb it more slowly and providing you with a steady stream of energy for longer.  So add some peanut butter to your protein shake, all fats are not created equal.

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