Fats: For Your Health
By Monique N. Gilbert
The body needs
a certain amount of fat in the diet. It stores fat to serve as a quick energy
source and to protect important organs. However, all fats and oils are high in
calories. Fats provide 9 calories for each gram contained in food, while protein
and carbohydrates each provide only 4 calories. While fat is necessary and essential
for proper health, some types of fats are damaging to the cardiovascular system.
Artery-clogging fats that increase blood cholesterol include saturated fat and
trans fat. Saturated fat mainly comes from animal sources like meat and dairy
products, but it can also be found in coconut and palm oils. Trans fat comes from
hydrogenated vegetable oils, like margarine and vegetable shortening. Both saturated
fats and trans fats stay solid at room temperature.
A more heart healthy
fat is unsaturated fat, generally found in vegetables. This type of fat includes
both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fat is found in
olive, canola and peanut oils. These oils are liquid at room temperature but start
to thicken when refrigerated. This type of fat is considered the healthiest for
your heart and body. Avocados and nuts also contain monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated
fat is found in soybean, corn, safflower and sunflower oils. These oils are liquid
at room temperature and in the refrigerator. This type of fat is considered the
next healthiest fat that does not clog arteries.
However, when unsaturated
vegetable oils are manufactured into solid form, they turn into trans fats. This
type of fat is commonly called fully or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in
a food's list of ingredients. Trans fats are found in hundreds of processed foods,
usually to protect against spoiling and to enhance flavor. Restaurants tend to
use a lot of trans fat (hydrogenated vegetable oil), especially for frying.
Trans fats are even worse for the cardiovascular system than saturated fats. Researchers
have conservatively calculated that trans fats alone account for at least 30,000
premature deaths from heart disease every year in the United States. Recent studies
indicate that trans fats drive up the body's LDL, the bad cholesterol, even faster
than saturated fats. High levels of cholesterol have been linked to heart disease
Diets high in fat, particularly saturated fat, also promotes
breast, colon, endometrial, lung, prostate and rectal cancers. Therefore, saturated
fats and trans fats are the only fats that we should strive to eliminate from
our diet. Replace these fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The
American Heart Association recommends that daily fat intake should be less than
30 percent of total calories; saturated fat intake less than 8-10 percent of total
calories, and cholesterol less than 300 milligrams per day. Always read the Nutrition
Facts label and list of ingredients to find out the amount of, and the type of,
fat contained in any particular food.
Want a delicious and nutritious alternative
to mayonnaise? Then try this recipe which makes a wonderful heart-healthy cholesterol-free
5.3 ounces tofu
(1/3 of a 16-ounce block firm tofu)
3 tablespoons soymilk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Blend ingredients in a food processor for a full 1-2 minutes, or until
it's smooth and creamy.
- Transfer spread into a jar and chill. Use in place
of traditional mayonnaise.
Makes about 1 cup (8 ounces)
article and recipe are excerpts from the book "Virtues of Soy: A Practical
Health Guide and Cookbook" by Monique N. Gilbert (Universal Publishers, $19.95,
available at most online booksellers). http://www.virtuesofsoy.com
© Monique N. Gilbert - All Rights Reserved.
Monique N. Gilbert,
B.Sc. is a Health Advocate, Certified Personal Trainer/Fitness Counselor, Recipe
Developer, Soy Food Connoisseur and author of "Virtues
of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook" (Universal Publishers, $19.95,
available at most online booksellers).
For more information about soy, visit the Virtues
of Soy website.
Monique N. Gilbert has a Bachelor of Science
degree, is a Certified Personal Trainer/Fitness Counselor and health advocate.
She began a low-fat, whole grain, vegetable-rich diet in the mid-1970's. This
introduced her to a healthier way of eating and became the foundation of her dietary
choices as an adult. She became a full-fledged vegetarian on Earth Day 1990. Over
the years she has increased her knowledge and understanding about health and fitness,
and the important role diet plays in a person's strength, vitality and longevity.
Monique has a Q&A column
at Veggies Unite
where she gives advice about health, fitness and vegetarian/vegan diets.
Monique feels it is her mission to educate and enlighten everyone about the benefits
of healthy eating and living.
Info from FWHC
Feminist Women's Health Center