This article is also available on Nutrition in Motion's blog NIM Dish
Good Fat, Bad Fat
Sarah Reid, RHNC
The word “fat” has long been the unofficial “swear word” of the weight-management sector. Butter, bacon, nuts and cheese are all laden with the stuff – and if we don’t want to be labelled with the awful “extra large body proportions” stigma, we must eschew it all from our menus, right?
The types of fat are commonly divided into two categories based on their impact on cholesterol levels. The “bad” fats are the saturated and trans-fatty acids, which are solid at room temperature and have a tendency to thicken the blood. In fact, their effects can be so powerful that the blood taken from a patient who had eaten a fast-food meal (full of these compounds) 1 hour before solidified in the vial. Saturated fat is what most of us are familiar with in foods like butter and lard, and is also common in coconut oil, nuts, and meat. Saturated fat has been linked to higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and risk of type 2 diabetes. Most trans-fats are from partially hydrogenated sources, meaning a liquid oil is saturated with hydrogen under high pressure to have an end result that is solid at room temperature. They have been shown to increase LDL while reducing the “good” HDL cholesterol, and have been linked to cancer, depression and liver disease. Labels are allowed to claim a product is “trans fat free” if it has under 0.5g of trans fat per serving – but watch the serving sizes too, because many of the new label claims also come with a smaller portion too!
When it comes to the weight loss war, it’s important to remember that fat of any kind contains 9 calories per gram. While it is important for our bodies – and should make up about 20% of our total daily calories – going hog-wild with the butter knife and having the extra cheesy pizza will not give your body the total support it needs. Choose your sources judiciously and enjoy every bite!