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FATS in our daily food

Fat provides more than double the calories of protein and carbohydrate; one gram of fat provides nine calories, whereas proteins and carbohydrates have four calories. Department of Health recommends that 33 per cent of our total calories should come from fat. Because you cannot avoid to consume saturated fats they should account for no more than 10 per cent of our total energy (calories): the rest of the fat calories should come from monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, because these are more beneficial to health. If you are eating 2,000 calories a day, 33% of fat amounts to 73 grams of total fat daily. If your daily calorie intake is 1,500 calories, 33% of fat amounts to 55 grams of total fat daily.

Although there are numerous names for different types of fats, they fall into two groups: saturated and unsaturated.

--Saturated fat is generally solid at room temperature, is usually from animal sources and found mainly in lard, butter, margarine, cheese and whole milk. It's also the white fat you see on red meat. The less saturated fat you eat, the better. Eating saturated fats has been linked to coronary heart disease.

Hydrogenated fat is made by taking an oil and pumping hydrogen into it to make it hard. Manufacturers use this primarily because it's cheap and better shelving life. The intakes of trans fatty acids have been associated with raised blood cholesterol levels, one of the risk factors associated with developing heart disease. All we can do is look for the words partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and if we see these words simply avoid the product. Many food manufacturers are now replacing these hydrogenated fats with fats that are less harmful to our body, but still not great. Some of these are Palm Oil and Coconut Oil. Also watch for these fats in fast food places and restaurants.

--Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature and generally come from vegetable sources. Mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated fats are both included in this group.

Unsaturated fats are healthier and can be found in cold pressed vegetable oils such as olive, hemp, rapeseed, peanut, sesame, sunflower, canola and soy oils. Also are found in coldwater fish: sardines, salmon, and albacore tuna and Small fish like mackerel, sardines, pilchards and fish oils. They are also rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids, with flaxseed oil being the best. All kinds of Nuts and seeds; Walnuts, Almonds, pistatues, sunflower seeds. Half an avocado every other day, olives are very healthy fat foods to eat.

You can, of course, also get polyunsaturated soft margarines, like Smart Balance. Watch the labels of these products they often contain partially hydrogenated fat - the fat we need to be most wary of and on the package they say no Tran Fat.

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