What fats are healthiest?

What fats are healthiest?

Fat is essential, but too much in your foods can be unhealthy


 Do you want to know the best foods with the least fat for your child's diet?

While the amount of fat plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease, the type of fat, even in a low fat diet, is critical. Fats and oils are classified according to their chemical structure. They are either polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, or saturated–and each has a different effect on blood cholesterol level. Foods generally contain a mixture of all three fats, but most foods have one major fat.

Saturated fat increases blood cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol, and the risk of heart disease.

  • Sources of Saturated fat:
    • All foods of animal origin
      • Beef 50% saturated
      • Veal 50% saturated
      • Lamb 50% saturated
      • Pork 38% saturated
      • Poultry (no skin) 33% saturated
      • Fish 20% saturated
    • Dairy products and eggs:
      • Whole milk dairy products are predominantly saturated. Cheese can have 66% saturated fat. Parmesan and mozzarella are the lowest in saturated fat. 
      • Low-fat products have a reduced-fat content-saturated fat is still present but in smaller amounts. They are still a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins.
      • A large egg has 93 calories and of that, 66 calories (71%) are saturated fat–a better choice, egg whites. 
      • If there is a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, butter should be avoided, and total fat intake should be modified.
    • Vegetable sources
      • It is a common misconception to think of saturated fats as being only animal in origin. Actually, the highest saturated fat–hydrogenated fat–comes from vegetable sources. 
      • These include coconut, palm, palm kernel oils, and cocoa butter. These fats are widely used as ingredients in processed and convenience foods due to their long shelf life and low cost. 
      • Be aware that an ingredient label may hide the specific type of fat in a product by stating "one or more of the following" or "100% vegetable shortening." These saturated vegetable fats should be avoided whenever possible. Check nutritional labeling for the total fat content and type of fat in the food. Choose items with the lowest amount of fat and avoid the worst types of fat.

Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fats in moderation is thought to lower total cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol (the problem kind) Intake should not exceed 10% of total calories. The richest source of monounsaturated fat is olive oil.

Polyunsaturated Fat

Many polyunsaturated vegetable oils are used in margarines. Once you begin to harden an oil you change its chemical structure to a more saturated form. When possible, use a liquid oil as a first choice in food preparation, then soft tub margarine as a second choice. Avoid the stick form, even when from a polyunsaturated vegetable source. If there is a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, butter should be avoided, and total fat intake should be modified.

Substituting fish for meat will increase polyunsaturated fat intake, and decrease the intake of saturated fat. Choose a good fatty fish like salmon for a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids to help in the treatment of high cholesterol and inflammatory diseases.

Sources of polyunsaturated fat

  • Vegetable oils (in order of polyunsaturated fat content)
    • safflower (most)
    • Canola
    • Sunflower
    • Corn
    • Cottonseed
    • Sesame
    • soybean (least)

Note: peanut oil has more saturated fat than these.