Reducing Fats in Your Diet
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Fats have several roles in the
diet - directly, because of their nutritional value, and
indirectly, in improving the palatability of foods and making
them easier to chew and swallow. Fats are concentrated sources
of energy, providing more than twice as much energy as the same
weight of carbohydrate or protein.
Fat is derived from visible fats, such as oils, spreads and meat
fats as well as invisible fats which are found in dairy foods,
nuts and foods such as cakes and biscuits, oily fish such as
herring and mackerel, and eggs.
In cooking we use either the hard fats, (what our grandparents
referred to as dripping and lard) or liquid oils from soya
beans, olives, peanuts and safflower seeds etc.
Certain vitamins, the fat-soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K - are
found in the fatty parts of food and so diets very low in fats
are also low in these vitamins. The body needs about 25 grams of
fat a day to obtain enough of the fat soluble vitamins and
essential fatty acids.
The essential fatty acids - omega-3 and omega-6 - not only
stimulate the body's development, they also play a role in
reducing inflammation and the tendency of the blood to clot.
A very small amount of oil or fat
helps the body extract critical carotenoid vitamins (vitamin A)
from vegetables and other foods. If a diet is extremely low in
fat, other food must be eaten to provide sufficient energy.
A shortage of fat intake however,
does not tend to be a problem for most of us in today's fast
food world. Indeed, one-third of our food dollar is today spent
on takeaway foods, which are notoriously high in fats and salt.
It is the type of fat we eat, rather than simply the amount of
fat that is our biggest problem.
The key problem with eating too much fat (i.e. more than the
body can burn for energy) is that it can create body fat. While
dietary guidelines recommend that fat should not exceed 30% of
the day's total energy intake, a typical day in a Western diet
includes about 40% fat, a factor which may well be contributing
to our increasing problem of obesity.
Obesity and a high saturated fat intake can lead to disorders
such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
You can reduce the fat
content in your diet by:
Using reduced fat dairy
Trimming visible fat from
Removing the skin from chicken
Adding less fats and oils to
Eating less of processed