Hundreds of experts from all over the world recommend how to eat healthier. Many experts say to keep saturated fat at less than 7% of what we eat. For example, a small order of fries from a typical fast-food restaurant is loaded with about 100 calories of fat. That amounts to nearly all the fat allowance for one day. At that rate, you or your child could be consuming an unhealthy amount of fat, much in the form of trans fatty acids, or hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Without sufficient dietary fat, however, the body lacks the nutrient it needs to produce adequate serotonin. Carbohydrates and sugar provide the temporary highs in serotonin levels. Without adequate fat and protein, the levels crash in a downward spiral within a short time. Such a surge-and-crash cycle quickly depletes the body of its ability to make enough serotonin to stabilize moods and prevent depression.
Two types of unsaturated fat are good for you in the right amounts. One is polyunsaturated fats, which include essential fatty acids that our bodies need but can’t manufacture. The other type is monounsaturated fats. Too much saturated and polyunsaturated fat leads to weight gain and puts you at high risk for elevated cholesterol and heart disease problems. Recommended fatty foods to be consumed in moderate amounts include fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. With cooking with oils, try to buy the least processed or refined oils you can afford and use them sparingly. Avoid foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, which are typically based on soybean oil.
Sources of saturated fats include red meats and whole dairy products such cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and butter. But, a number of plant-based sources contain saturated fats as well, such as coconut oil and coconut milk. Others are palm kernel oil, cocoa butter, and regular palm oil. Even though consumers do not typically purchase plant-based saturated fats directly from their grocers, these fats are used in a number of commercially prepared products. For instance, cocoa butter is in chocolate. Coconut oil and palm oils can be found in nondairy products, whipped toppings, coffee creamers, and a variety of cookies and cakes.
Substituting low-fat products and fat-free varieties of products you normally use will help minimize the amount of detrimental fat you eat. Only eat red meat occasionally, and when you do, choose the lean cuts and eat smaller portions. Always remove the skin from poultry after cooking it. Supplement these changes by eating fish at least twice a week. Or, even go completely meatless for one full week. Learn to use vegetable oils such canola, olive oil, over the solid fats such butter. Flavor your foods with different herbs and spices instead of the fat-laden toppings and sauces. As well, increase your overall intake of whole gains, fresh fruits, and raw vegetables.
Cheese is a wonderful source of protein, containing loads of calcium and phosphorus, but it’s also a major source wave of saturated fat. So it’s fine to eat cheese but not in large quantities. The older types of cheese tend to be more flavorful, leaving you satisfied with smaller portions. Some cheeses include extra-sharp cheddar such as Gorgonzola, Parmesan, and Asiago. Some of the reduced-fat cheeses have about 6 grams of fat with 4 grams of saturated fat. These work well in sandwiches and salads. Shredded cheese with 2% fat content provides a useful substitute for pizza toppings or to use in your favorite food dishes.
Another good substitute is margarine because it’s made from vegetable oils that don’t have the saturated fats hidden within them. One type of margarine is high in trans-fat which may be more harm than the saturated fat. These fats tend to raise the low density lipoproteins (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol. When or if you decide to buy margarine make sure to read the facts on the label that state the proper amount of trans-fat per serving.Making healthier food choices will allow you to showcase for others the freedom you enjoy by having a healthier lifestyle.