Monday, April 28, 2014

Nutrition: Fact sheet- Fats

This is a nutrition article I wrote for Total Guide to Bath:
Nutrition Article April
Factsheet- Fats
I think many people know that there are “good fats” and “bad fats”- but apart from knowing that a drizzle of olive oil on your salad is good for you, but extra cheese and salami on your pizza is perhaps not so good- many do not know which fats we should be avoiding, which are recommended, and which fats are found in different foods.

It is also very important to know that you shouldn’t ever have a diet with no fat in it- fat plays very important functions within the body, such as helping to insulate the body from the cold, needed for absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and is used within the body to create essential hormones.

Fats are found in both animal and plant sources, for example:

Animal Origin: Butter, Lard, Meat, Dairy Products, Fish, Eggs
Plant Origin: Seeds, Nuts, Olives, Avocado, Coconut, soya.

Generally speaking (although coconut is an odd exception to this rule), fats from animal origin are made up of “saturated fats”- which are essentially the “bad fats” that you will want to be avoiding, or reducing how much you consume of, as these are the fats that have a bad effect on your cholesterol levels.

Fats from plant sources are usually made from “monounsaturated fats”- which have been proven to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and your overall circulation and heart health.

Oily fish provides a good source polyunsaturated fats, many of you may know as “omega 3” and “omega 6” which you often see advertised on food packaging. It is theorised that it the high consumption of oily fish, and the high levels of olive oil consumption, that accounts for the healthiness of the Mediterranean population. This is most likely why the NHS recommends that the British public should be consuming at least one portion of oily fish a week.

Here are some tips on keeping your saturated fat levels low, and your “healthy fat” levels high!
· Start cooking with olive oil instead of with butter.
· Switch from semi-skimmed or whole milk to skimmed.
· Reduce consumption of high fat meats, such as pork, duck, or lamb- and aim to consume leaner meats, such as chicken, turkey, beef or game.
· Use lean cooking methods- such as baking, grilling, or broiling- rather than higher fat methods such as frying or roasting.
· Choose “low fat” or “non-fat” versions of your usual foods (e.g. yoghurt, ice cream, ready meals).
· Use herbs, spices  and lemon juice to increase the flavour of dishes without having to add fat to it to make it taste nice!
· Avoid (or reduce consumption of) high fat dairy products, such as cream (or cream cakes!) or cheese. Good low fat cheeses include cottage cheese and feta.

And here are some healthy meal suggestions to help you to keep your healthy fat consumption high!

Fruit smoothie- made with your favourite fruits, and a handful of linseeds.
Smoked salmon and tomato egg white omelette
“Low Fat Fry-up” Grilled bacon, sausages, tomato and mushrooms, with 1 poached egg and seeded toast.

Turkey Avocado salad wraps (grilled turkey breast, with balsamic dressing, avocado and lettuce in tortillas)
Butternut squash and puoy lentil salad (mix steamed butternut squash with cooked puoy lentils, and a homemade pesto dressing- with pine nuts, olive oil and basil)
Tuna salad nicoise (made with lightly cooked fresh tuna steaks)

Beef and butterbean stew, with steamed new potatoes (made with a lean stewing beef)
Turkey and asparagus stir fry, served on steamed basmati rice
Seared mackerel fillets, served on seeded toast with a lightly dressed horseradish coleslaw.

To keep your healthy fats high, snack on nuts and seeds whenever you can!

So don’t be scared to improve your diet, and improve your heart health, by not shying away from fats- now that you know the good, from the bad, from the ugly!

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