Fat is the term used to refer to fatty acids. There are 3 types of fatty acids: Saturated, Polyunsaturated, and Monounsaturated. Saturated fatty acids are found in animal products, including dairy products, and also in vegetable shortening. Saturated fat is the worst for us, as it raises our blood cholesterol. Saturated fats need to be limited in our diet. Polyunsaturated fats come from corn, soybeans, and sunflower oils. Polyunsaturated fats appear to reduce total cholesterol, but they also reduce HDL cholesterol levels (“good” cholesterol). Monounsaturated fats are found mostly in nut oils. These fats have been shown too reduce LDL cholesterol levels (‘bad’ cholesterol).
So often, we confuse body fat with nutritional fat. And because most of us usually are trying to reduce our body fat, we see fat as the source of all evil…it’s not. Fat is necessary both in our bodies and in our diets. We can and should reduce fatty foods from our diets because these are usually high sources of calories with little to no nutritional value.
As stated above, pay close attention to the types of nutritional fat in your diet and reduce the saturated fats. Add some nuts (almonds are lower in calories) for some good fat and track the calories that you eat.
I’ve heard that the average American gets 42% of their calories from fat. Remember that while protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram. Fat should be limited to 20% of your caloric intake, and even less if you have high cholesterol. The ‘Law of Moderation’ still stands. Go ahead and enjoy that ice cream or cookie treat, once and awhile…just don’t make it part of your daily routine.