Good Fats and Bad Fats
We all need fats. Some types of
dietary fat are better than others
You're ready to sauté fresh
vegetables for dinner, but you hesitate with uncertainty. Do you cook the
vegetables in butter or margarine? Or would canola oil or olive oil be better?
Maybe you should avoid fat altogether
and use a nonfat cooking spray instead.
Confused About Fats?
The following nutrient-rich
traditional fats have nourished healthy population groups for thousands of
Beef and lamb tallow
Chicken, goose and duck fat
Coconut, palm and
Cold pressed olive oil
Cold pressed flax oil
The following new-fangled fats can
cause cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, sterility, learning
disabilities, growth problems and osteoporosis:
First, know that not all fats are
Most foods contain several different
kinds of fat - including saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans
fat - and some types are better for your health than others are.
It's not necessary that you
completely eliminate all fats from your meals. Rather, be sure to choose the
best types of fat and enjoy them in moderation.
Fat: A necessary nutrient
Fats helps nutrient absorption, nerve
transmission, maintaining cell membrane integrity etc.
Your body needs fat to function
properly. Besides being an energy source, fat is a nutrient used in the
production of cell membranes, as well as in several hormone-like compounds
These compounds help regulate blood
pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting and the nervous
In addition, dietary fat carries
fat-soluble vitamins - vitamins A, D, E and K - from your food into your body.
Fat also helps maintain healthy hair
and skin, protects vital organs, keeps your body insulated, and provides a sense
of fullness after meals (satiety).
But too much fat can negatively
impact your health. Eating large amounts of high-fat foods adds excess calories,
which can lead to weight gain and obesity, heart disease and certain types of
Obesity is a risk factor for several
diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, gallstones, sleep apnea and
And too much of certain types of fat;
such as saturated fat or trans fat - can increase your blood cholesterol levels
and your risk of coronary artery disease.
Fats are not created equal. Some fats
promote our health positively while some increase our risks of heart disease.
The key is to replace bad fats with good fats in our diet.
When choosing fats, your best options
are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats, if used in place
of others, can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and
low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in your blood.
Cholesterol, which your body produces
for building cells, is the main substance in fatty deposits (plaques) that can
develop in your arteries. Plaques that build up can reduce blood flow
through your vessels, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
One type of polyunsaturated fat,
omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart.
Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty
acids include fish oil and certain plant/nut oils. Fish oil contains both
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while some nuts
(English walnuts) and vegetable oils (canola, soybean, flaxseed/linseed, olive)
contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
There is evidence from multiple
large-scale population (epidemiologic) studies and randomized controlled trials
that intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or
fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides, reduces the risk of death, heart
attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known
cardiovascular disease, slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques ("hardening
of the arteries"), and lowers blood pressure slightly.
However, high doses may have harmful
effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding. Although similar benefits are
proposed for alpha-linolenic acid, scientific evidence is less compelling, and
beneficial effects may be less pronounced.
Some species of fish carry a higher
risk of environmental contamination, such as with methylmercury.
Here are the differences among these
healthy fats as well as the best food sources for each type:
Monounsaturated fat remains
liquid at room temperature but may start to solidify in the refrigerator.
Foods high in monounsaturated fat include olive, peanut and canola oils.
Avocados and most nuts also have high amounts of monounsaturated fat.
Polyunsaturated fat is
usually liquid at room temperature and in the refrigerator. Foods high in
polyunsaturated fats include vegetable oils, such as safflower, corn,
sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils.
Omega-3 fatty acids are
polyunsaturated fats found mostly in seafood. Good sources of omega 3s include
fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Flaxseeds, flax
oil and walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, and small amounts are found
in soybean and canola oils.
Saturated and trans fats are less
healthy kinds of fats. They can increase your risk of heart disease by
increasing your total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Dietary cholesterol isn't technically
a fat, but it's found in food derived from animal sources. Intake of dietary
cholesterol increases blood cholesterol levels, but not as much as saturated and
trans fats, and not to the same degree in all people.
Here are how these fats differ and
what their common food sources are:
Usually solid or waxy at room
temperature, saturated fat is most often found in animal products — such as
red meat, poultry, butter and whole milk. Other foods high in saturated
fat include coconut,
palm and other tropical oils.
Trans fat. <
Trans fats: What's all the fuss? > Also
referred to as trans-fatty acids, trans fat comes from adding hydrogen to
vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. This makes the fat
more solid and less likely to turn rancid. Hydrogenated fat is a common
ingredient in commercial baked goods — such as crackers, cookies and cakes —
and in fried foods such as doughnuts and french fries. Shortenings and
some margarines also are high in trans fat. Look for the words partially
hydrogenated in the list of ingredients to see if the product has trans fat.
Some food labels state if the product has no trans-fatty acids.
Your body naturally
manufactures all of the cholesterol it needs, but you also get cholesterol
from animal products, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products,
lard and butter.
Your daily limit for fat intake
It is recommend that fat make up no
more than 35 percent of your daily calories. This means that if you consume
1,800 calories a day, consume no more than 70 grams of fat a day.
(To figure: Multiply 1,800 by 0.35 to
get 630 calories, and divide that number by 9, the number of calories per gram
of fat, to get 70 grams of total fat.)
Keep in mind,
however, that this is an upper limit and that most of these fat calories should
come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources.
Type of fat recommended for daily
Though there is no upper limit for
trans fat, they do suggest that you keep your trans fat intake as low as
Be aware that many foods contain
different kinds of fat and varying levels of each type.
For example, butter contains
unsaturated fats, but a large percentage of the total fat is saturated fat.
And canola oil has a high percentage
of monounsaturated fat, but also contains smaller amounts of polyunsaturated fat
and saturated fat.
choosing the best types of fat
Limit fat in your diet, but don't try
to cut it out completely. Focus on reducing foods high in saturated fat, trans
fat and cholesterol, and select more foods made with unsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated
fats have few adverse effects on blood cholesterol levels, but you still need to
consume all fats in moderation.
Eating large amounts of any fat adds
excess calories. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, compared with 4 calories per
gram for protein and carbohydrates. Also make sure that fatty foods don't
replace more nutritious options, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes or whole
What can we do?
cooking oils that
are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats such as
coconut oil, palm
oil or vegetable shortening. Instead, use oils that are low in saturated fats
and high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, olive oil and
flax seed oil.
Minimize using commercially packaged
foods which are high in trans fats.
As saturated fats are found in
animals products, use lower-fat version dairy such as 1% or skim milk instead of
homo milk. Trim visible fats and skins from meat products.
Trans fatty acids are found in
numerous foods - commercially packaged goods such as cookies and crackers,
commercially fried food such as French Fries from some fast food chains, other
packaged snacks such as microwave popcorn as well as in vegetable shortening and
Any packaged goods that contains
"partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils" or "shortening" most likely contain
Before the invention of trans fatty
acids, we cooked food with lard, palm oil or butter etc which are high in
saturated fats. Researchers found that saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol
(the Bad cholesterol) which may increase the risk of heart disease.
Therefore, manufacturers started to
use the healthier vegetable oils in their food production.
As liquid vegetable oils are not
stable to heat and can go rancid easily, scientists began to "hydrogenate"
liquid oils so that they can withstand better in food production process and
provide a better shelf life. As a result of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are
Similar to saturated fatty acids,
trans fatty acids also increase LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) and lower
HDL cholesterol (the Good cholesterol) therefore increasing the risk of heart
Some studies also showed that a diet
high in trans fatty acids may be linked to a greater risk of
Type 2 Diabetes
Minimize the intake of both saturated
fats and trans fats by checking the food labels. The amount of trans fats
per serving of food will appear under the Total Fat section of the label.
Some labels, however, do not list the
amount of trans fats present. Here is how you can figure it out on your own: add
up the values for saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. If the
number is less than the "Total fats" shown on the label, the unaccounted is
In addition, eat less fat - less
total fat in general means less trans and saturated fats!
Types of Edible Fats
Sweet butter, which is simply
referred to as "butter", is produced from cream that has been churned until
it becomes semisolid.
It is one of the two main types
of butter (the other is lactic butter).
Any type of milk can be used, but
cow's milk is the most popular. In the United States, any product labeled
sweet butter must contain at least 80% milk fat. Water and milk solids are
the remaining components.
Sweet butter may be sold salted
or unsalted. Many people mistakenly believe that "unsalted butter" is the
only type of sweet cream butter (because of the absence of salt) and
"salted" butter refers to a product that is entirely different, when
actually both products are identical except for the salt.
Any butter produced with sweet
rather than sour cream is known as sweet cream butter. Both unsalted and
salted butter are popular for everyday use, but unsalted butter is preferred
for the preparation of sweet dishes.
Butter is one of the most popular
cooking fats, providing rich flavor to foods, but it has a low smoke point,
so care must be taken not to burn it when using it for high heat sautéing
When sautéing with butter, many
cooks add an oil with a higher smoke point to prevent the butter from
Butter is used as a topping for
breads and rolls, is melted onto cooked vegetables, and is added to many
types of sauces to provide a rich, smooth flavor. It is also used as an
ingredient in hundreds of baked goods such as breads, rolls, cakes, and
Butter is perishable so it should
be stored in the refrigerator. It should be tightly wrapped because it will
absorb odors and flavors quite easily.
Unsalted butter may be kept in
the refrigerator for 2 or 3 weeks and salted butter may be kept somewhat
longer (4 or 5 weeks) because the salt acts as a preservative.
Butter freezes extremely well
and may be kept in the freezer for long-term storage for at least a half
cooking, baking, condiment, ingredient for sauces, flavoring ingredient
Note: A product labeled "whipped butter" is regular butter that has had
air beaten into it in order to increase the volume and to make it easier to
spread. It should not be used in baked goods because the large volume of air
contained in the product will result in the incorrect proportion of butter in
comparison to the other ingredients.
One of the two basic types of
butter is lactic butter (the other main type is sweet cream butter), which
is produced by adding a culture to pasteurized cream.
The culture ripens the butter and
at the appropriate time, it is pasteurized again to stop the ripening
process. Lactic butter is favored in many European countries.
cooking, baking, condiment, ingredient for sauces, flavoring ingredient
Clarified butter is produced by
melting regular butter over low heat and skimming off the milk solids that
rise to the top. The golden yellow clarified layer is then strained off,
leaving only sediments in the bottom of the pan.
Clarified butter has a rich
buttery flavor and is excellent for cooking because it has a higher smoke
point than regular butter. It is used in many baked dishes and for creating
a variety of sauces.
Clarified butter is also known as
drawn butter and is often used as a dipping sauce for various types of
seafood, such as shrimp and lobster.
ingredient in baked dishes and sauces, condiment
Originating in India, ghee is a
form of clarified butter that is made from a strongly flavored cream.
After the butter from the cream
is clarified, it is allowed to remain on the heat for a longer period, which
results in a darker, caramelized, strongly flavored butter.
It has a very high smoke point,
making it useful for high heat cooking methods.
Ghee, which is usually sold in
cans, does not have to be refrigerated because it contains no milk solids
that can spoil.
cooking, ingredient in baked dishes and sauces, condiment
In order to produce whey butter,
the whey is drained from the cheese curds during the cheese making process.
Any cream remaining in the whey is separated and churned into butter.
Whey butter is strong and salty
with a cheese flavor and it has limited appeal. It can be found in some
specialty shops and farmers markets.
condiment, flavoring ingredient
Cocoa butter is a cream colored
vegetable fat that is obtained from cocoa beans, usually as a byproduct
during the production of chocolate and cocoa powder.
It is used as a flavoring for
various foods and it is also used in the cosmetic industry for the
manufacture of soaps and lotions. It is very high in saturated fat so it
should be used sparingly.
chocolate and cocoa powder production, cosmetics
Lard is pork fat that has been
rendered and clarified to produce a product that is firm and evenly textured
with a mild flavor.
Lard that is not processed has a
soft, greasy texture and a strong flavor. Processing methods include
bleaching, filtering, and hydrogenation.
The fat around the kidneys
produces lard with the best quality. At one time, lard was extremely popular
as an all-purpose cooking fat and for use in baking.
It has become much less popular
because of the health problems associated with the overuse of saturated fat
in the diet.
However, it is still preferred by
many pastry cooks because it produces the most tender and flaky crusts. Some
cooks add butter to lard when making pastries in order to make the crust
Like butter, lard will absorb
flavors and aromas so it should be tightly wrapped when it is stored.
The label should be checked for
the proper storage method because some types of lard, depending on the
processing technique, may be stored at room temperature, while other types
Suet is a white, solid fat
obtained from the area surrounding the kidneys of beef and sheep.
It is used for the creation of
dumplings and for several traditional English steamed puddings, such as
steak and kidney pudding.
It is also used in the
manufacture of tallow candles. It was very popular at one time, but it has
lost much of its popularity due to increased awareness of health problems
associated with saturated fat.
Suet is sold in large chunks or
in a shredded form in small packets.
steamed puddings, candles
Made from vegetable oils,
vegetable shortening is a solid fat at room temperature because of a process
called hydrogenation in which hydrogen is added to the oils.
This changes the chemical
characteristics of the oils, making them solid at room temperature.
The process also creates
trans-fatty acids, which transforms the healthy oils, composed largely of
unsaturated fat, into less healthy fats containing mostly saturated fat.
Like lard, vegetable shortening
is very useful in baking light and flaky pastries.
Some varieties may have butter
flavoring added, which improves the flavor and gives the shortening a light
golden color. Vegetable shortening can be stored at room temperature for a
year or more if it is tightly covered.
Note: Most solid cooking fats can be called shortening because when they
are used for baking, they produce a short, or flaky and crumbly crust. The more
fat used in proportion to flour in a recipe, the shorter the crust. If the flour
is in a greater proportion to the fat, the crust will be tougher and less flaky.
Margarine has been a popular
butter substitute for over a hundred years. Like butter, regular margarine
must contain a minimum of 80% fat. It is made from various vegetable oils
such as soybean and corn.
In order to produce margarine in
hard sticks, the vegetable oil must undergo hydrogenation, which means that
extra hydrogen is added to the oils.
This process changes the chemical
composition of the oils, causing them to solidify. The hydrogenation process
produces trans-fatty acids, which eliminates the unsaturated fats of the
vegetable oils and converts them to solid saturated fats.
This is why many of the
margarines on the market are no better or worse than butter in terms of
health. Look for margarine that is low in trans-fatty acids.
Margarine can be used just like
butter as a topping for bread, rolls, or biscuits, but it is much more
Margarine is often used in a
variety of baked goods and can be used in any recipe requiring butter. It
has a lower smoke point than many cooking oils so for many cooks, it is not
the first choice for sautéing or frying.
Other types of margarine include:
Soft Margarine: formulated to
be easy to spread.
Whipped Margarine: beaten
vigorously to add air to the mixture, which makes it very easy to spread
Liquid Margarine: packaged in a
squeezable bottle, making it easy to add to foods such as corn on the cob
or for use as a basting medium
Reduced Fat Margarine: has as
much as 65% less fat than regular margarine. It may not be as suitable for
some baked goods as regular margarine or butter and because of a higher
water content, it isn't as useful for sautéing or frying.
Fat-free Margarine: a much
healthier spread than regular margarine, but it should not be used in
baking. It also has a much higher water content than regular margarine so
it should not be used for sautéing or frying.
Margarine should be stored in the
refrigerator where it will keep for 2 months or more and for long term
storage, it may be kept in the freezer for a half year or longer.
Like butter and other solid fats,
margarine will absorb flavors and odors so it should be tightly wrapped or
cooking, baking, condiment
opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not
replaced professional advise and consultation. A licensed physician should
be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions