- NUTRITIONAL WELLNESS
- KNOW YOUR SERVING
- BODY SMART
- MEAL PLANNING
- TIPS & TRICKS
- UNDERSTANDING FOOD LABELS
Fat is an important nutrient, as it contains fatty acids essential for life that our bodies need in order to synthesise hormones and build cell walls. Fat also provides us with the fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K. In addition, our organs use fat as a cushion to help prevent injury. And of course, fat tastes very good, since it is an important carrier of aroma and flavour. With 9 kcal per gram, fat also provides a large amount of energy, indeed, more than twice as much as the same quantity of carbohydrate or protein.
Fats are not all alike
The variations between fatty acids make the difference. There are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are primarily found in animal-derived foods, such as butter, lard, and bacon, in fatty cheese, fatty sausage and in meat. Most of us already consume more than enough of these foods. Eating too much fatty food is not good for our blood vessels and makes our heart work too hard.
Fat is good, but it has to be the right fat
Unsaturated fatty acids are further divided into monounsaturated fatty acids – which are found in olive and rapeseed oil – and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids include omega-6 fatty acids, primarily found in sunflower, corn and soybean oil, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty saltwater fish, such as herring, mackerel and salmon, as well as in certain vegetable oils, including linseed oil, rapeseed oil and soybean oil. Our bodies need all of them. For this reason, when you make salad dressing you might wish to alternate between high-quality olive oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and corn oil. If you regularly consume saltwater fish such as herring, salmon or mackerel, then you will be best assured of an adequate supply of unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, this will help to provide the proper ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. A balanced ratio is important for keeping your blood lipid levels in balance and is the best protection for your blood vessels and your heart. And yet, oils are rich in calories. Two tablespoons a day is sufficient – this will help you maintain a slim figure and not put on weight.
Fat is healthy in moderation
About 60 to 80 grams of fat per day is sufficient for adults depending on weight and gender. We can benefit from the positive effects of fatty acids without having excessive calories leave their mark on the scales. On average, though, we are consuming too much fat. Therefore, here are our tips for how to limit your fat intake:
- Pay careful attention to the hidden fats contained in foods. Since we cannot see them, we can easily eat too much of them. Thus, in only half a chocolate bar, there are 16 grams of fat. A bratwurst provides as much as 28 grams – and 100g of French fries provide an additional 14.5 grams.
- Select low-fat versions of foods. In this way, you can limit your fat intake from meat, sausage, milk and cheese.
- Keep things in balance. If you find yourself going beyond your limits on one day, you can help even this out the following day. You should find a balance between foods that are rich in fat, such as cakes, fried foods or pudding and low-fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, cereal products and low-fat yogurt.