Fats in the Diet and Good Health

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Saturated fats should be kept to a minimum as they can contribute to a raised TC and LDL cholesterol level. A high intake of polyunsaturated fat in proportion to total fat intake can help lower total cholesterol. Consuming more monounsaturates helps lower triglycerides, LDLs and total cholesterol, whilst keeping HDLs high. Monounsaturates are therefore the most favourable choice. Trans fats should be avoided as can raise LDLs and reduce HDLs. Omega-3 fish oils reduce the clotting of blood, to an optimal level, as in the aetiology of heart disease, it is not just build up of cholesterol, but also the readiness of the blood to clot in the narrow regions, which causes occlusion. Omega-3s may also have a beneficial effect on cholesterol subfractions (Yannios 1999).

So, with all the conflicting evidence from 'experts' how much, and what types of fat should we be consuming? The answer lies in the individual. It would be impractical and far too costly to screen the population properly for heart disease risk, and it is unlikely you know your own risk, so I will attempt to provide general recommendations (bodybuilding aside for the moment).

The population guidelines in the UK aims for an average total fat intake of 30 - 35 % of total energy intake, and the saturates : polyunsaturates : monounsaturates ratio should be approximately 1 : 1 : 1. But, if you are trying to lose weight this percentage guideline is considered too high.

If your weight is fine, as a percentage of total fat intake, cut right down on saturated fat sources, eat moderate amount of polyunsaturates, include monounsaturates whenever possible, and eat oily fish at least three or four times a week. .. .do include small amounts of monounsaturates and eat

However, if you are overweight, cut right down on total fat intake, as fat is very energy dense oily fish a few times a week" (nine calories per gram, compared with four calories per gram of protein and carbohydrate), but do include small amounts of monounsaturates and eat oily fish a few times a week. Try to make it so that when you do have fat, consume from the beneficial sources, but don't exclude fat altogether.

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