Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lets get our FATS Straight

Is fat really our enemy? 

I am an athlete. I run 4-6 miles a day, and I often find myself standing in front of the fridge unable to satiate my hunger. Do you know that feeling? When you want something to eat but you are not exactly hungry (probably because you just inhaled an entire bag of pretzels). Well, after speaking with Dr. Scharper about my diet, he informed me that there was not enough good fat in my diet. Of course I was surprised to hear this because when is fat in my diet ever really ‘good’ and secondly, I had plenty of fat in my diet - chips, ice cream, french fries {oh my}.  But Dr. Scharper got me thinking… what is the deal with fat? Do I stay away from it? And how do I find the good fat? So I did some research, and here is what I learned.

The Skinny on Fats

Saturated fats are known as the solid fats, as they are typically solid at room temperature. Saturated fat can be found in animal sources like meats, yogurt, cheese and egg yolk. Saturated fats have been linked to heart disease and high cholesterol, and should be limited to no more that 10% of your daily value.

Unsaturated fats are typically found in plant food sources and are usually liquid at room temperature. They are commonly found in foods such as almonds, fish, olive and canola oil, avocados and our favorite, flaxseed. Unsaturated fats are known for having such health benefits as lowering cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease. These are the GOOD FATS Doctor Scharper was talking about.

Trans fats are created when an unsaturated fat is made into a solid, this can happen naturally or through a manmade process. Trans fats are be found in a lot of commercial baked goods like doughnuts and crackers. Trans fats, like saturated fats should be limited.

Why do we need fat in our diet?

All the energy we need for life comes from the food and fluid that we consume. The nutrients we consume break down into three common categories: Fats, Carbohydrates and Proteins. Fats provide the highest concentration of energy out of all three of these nutrients. And is essential for longer, slower lower intensity and endurance exercise such as cycling , jogging and walking. One pound of stored fat provides approximately 3,600 calories of energy. So keep running and don’t shy away from those healthy unsaturated fats that can fuel your next work out.

Other interesting facts about unsaturated fats: Via Mayo Clinic

Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control.

Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.

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