There is a great deal of conflicting information these days on whether a low
or a low carb diet is healthier in general, and even more opinions on which diet
will help you lose weight and keep it off.
Depending on which diet guru you listen to, we should either:
- Eliminate all fats from our diet and eat lots of carbohydrates, or
- Eat lots of fat and eliminate carbohydrates from our diet.
Setting aside the question of whether excess body fat is caused by dietary
fat or unburned carbohydrates, excess consumption of fatty foods has other
dangerous health consequences such as arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and adult Type
Confused? You don't need to be - you just need to understand a few fat facts.
- Saturated fat ... this one is a no-brainer. Heart surgeons
and dieticians agree that reducing saturated fat has immense health benefits. This type of fat
- found primarily in meat, milk, and dairy products, remains solid at room
Coconut and palm oils are also high in saturated fats. Health issues
include raised cholesterol levels in the blood and clogging of the arteries
- Trans fat ... Also known as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils,
trans fats are abundant in many margarines and shortenings.
Like their cousins saturated fats, trans fats remain solid at room temperature
and cause similar health problems.
Although these fats do occur naturally in some foods, trans fats are primarily
found in processed foods.
- Monounsaturated fat ... These oils are liquid at room temperature
but will become thicker when refrigerated. Olive and canola oils are the most
commonly used monounsaturated fats.
- Polyunsaturated fat ... These remain liquid at most temperatures.
Most other vegetable oils, nuts, and high-fat fish are good sources of
polyunsaturated fats. The most beneficial - documented to prevent heart
disease - are Omega 3 essential fatty acids.
- Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) ... are very important for
normal brain development, nervous system function, and eyesight. Our bodies can't
create or store these omega 3 fatty acids so we have to get them from foods we eat.
Cold-water fish - salmon, tuna, and herring - are the best sources of omega 3, but most fish contain this essential fatty acid.
Learn more health benefits of fish on the
heart healthy fish recipes page.
Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats reduce cholesterol when substituted
saturated fats in your diet.
Your body needs some dietary fat so that it can function properly. Fats supply energy and
are essential for transporting the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K from the
digestive tract to the circulatory system.
Our brains are lined with fatty
tissues, nerve cells have high essential fatty acid content, and we need fat to
The fat layer underneath the skin provides insulation against extreme hot and
cold temperatures and protects vital organs from damage, just like that
bubble wrap you use for mailing fragile items.
That's the $64,000 question. Doctors, nutritionists, and scientists
have conducted hundreds of studies trying to answer this very question - with
dozens of varying results and recommendations.
Although there is no definitive best answer, some generally accepted
guidelines have emerged. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats and
low in cholesterol, eat in moderation, and don't forget to get some
exercise so you can burn off calories.
Excessive consumption of foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol has
been demonstrated to significantly increase dangers of heart disease, obesity,
and obesity-related diseases (e.g. diabetes).
Many doctors and public health agencies recommend that you limit your
total fat to 30 percent of daily calories and saturated fat to 10
studies and research also suggest that low carbohydrate, high protein
diets also reduce the risk of heart disease.
- South American Low
- Low fat doesn't have to be low taste! A complete low-fat meal
with appetizer, main course, & dessert. Traditional recipes from
Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Panama, El Salvador, & Columbia.
- Mediterranean Diet - This diet
from the Greek island of Crete was developed by Australian researchers who
found that native islanders had the lowest rate of heart disease in a study of
seven Mediterranean countries.
- Low Fat Dessert Recipes
- Blood levels of long-chain omega 3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death. C. Albert, H. Campos, M. Stampfer, et al., New England Journal
of Medicine, 2002, Vol. 346, pp. 1113--1118
- Fish and omega 3 fatty acid intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women.
F. Hu, L. Bronner, W. Willett, et al., Journal of the American Medical
Association, 2002, Vol. 287, pp. 1815--1821
- A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrates and risk of
coronary heart disease in US women. S. Liu, W. Willett, M. Stampfer
et al., Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal,
Vol. 12, A 260
- My Fat, Your Fat, and Trans Fat. L. Binkley, Kudzu Monthly,
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
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