Archive for January, 2011

20-35% of your cals from fat

January 30, 2011

Monounsaturated fats

* Are liquid at room temperature and turn cloudy when kept in refrigerator.
* Primary sources are plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil. Other good sources are avocados; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds.
* People following traditional Mediterranean diets, which are very high in foods containing monounsaturated fats like olive oil, tend to have lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated fats

* Are liquid at room temperatures as well as at cold temperatures
* Primary sources are sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and also foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish.
* This fat family includes the Omega-3 group of fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and your body can’t make. In addtion, Omega-3 fats are found in very few foods.

Saturated fat

* Are usually solid at room temperature and have a high melting point
* Primary sources are animal products including red meat and whole milk dairy products. Other sources are tropical vegetable oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and foods made with these oils. Poultry and fish contain saturated fat, but less than red meat.
* Saturated fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
* It is unnecessary to eat saturated fat sources since our bodies can produce all the saturated fat that we need when we consume enough of the good fats.

Trans Fats

* Trans fats are created by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas, a process called hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenating vegetable oils makes them more stable and less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturers – and very bad for you.
* Primary sources of trans fat are vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
* Trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), as well as lowering HDL, or good cholesterol.

Types of omega-3 fatty acids

The three key members of the omega-3 family are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines, or some cold-water fish oil supplements. Canned (albacore) tuna and lake trout can also be good sources, depending on how the fish were raised and processed.

You may hear a lot about getting your omega-3’s from foods rich in ALA fatty acids. ALA is the most common omega-3 found in American diets and is found in abundance in flax seeds and flax seed oil, as well as walnuts. While your body may be able to convert ALA into EPA and DHA, you can’t be sure – only some people have the ability to do so. Thus, to insure you get enough of these vital nutrients, it’s prudent to include fatty fish or fatty fish oil supplements in your diet. But, if you eat no fish or fish oil, getting just ALA is better than nothing – your cardiovascular protection may still go up, though not nearly as much as with fish oils.

Some people avoid seafood because they worry about mercury or other possible toxins in fish. Most experts agree that the benefits of eating two servings a week of these cold water fatty fish outweigh the risks.
Choosing the best omega-3 supplements

When choosing an omega-3 supplement, keep the following in mind:

* One 500-mg capsule per day is sufficient. Any more than that is extraneous and could even be detrimental to your health. The American Heart Association recommends consuming 1–3 grams per day of EPA and DHA. For certain medical conditions, higher doses of omega-3 might be beneficial, but make sure these are prescribed by a medical professional.
* Choose supplements that are mercury-free, pharmaceutical grade and molecularly distilled. Make sure the supplement contains both DHA and EPA. They may be hard to find, but supplements with higher concentrations of EPA are better. A good ratio to look for is 3:2 (EPA:DHA).
* Check the expiration date!

The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio

Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are both essential fats (meaning the body can’t make them and instead we need to get them from the food we eat). The proper balance of these two fats is extremely important for a number of reasons – one being that omega-6 fats are the precursors for pro-inflammatory molecules (which helps us avoid infections and promotes healing) whereas omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory and turn off the inflammatory response when it is no longer needed.

In recent decades the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids has become way out of balance in the western diet. Most people consume far too many omega-6 fatty acids and consume far too little omega-3 fatty acids. This ratio is one of the important factors that can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammatory conditions, and depression.
Tips for helping to balance your intake of the omega fats

* Avoid vegetable oils such as corn or safflower oil.
* Reduce your consumption of meats and dairy products.
* Eliminate highly processed foods.
* Increase consumption of omega-3 rich foods such as wild-caught cold-water fish like salmon, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.

EPA and DHA are the active forms of omega-3. Their structures are very similar and differ by only two carbons and one double bond. EPA and DHA work together in the body but have different biological roles.

EPA EPA is the precursor to a class of anti-inflammatory hormone-like molecules called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids play a vital role in regulating inflammation, blood pressure, blood clotting, immune function and cell growth. They are beneficial for heart health, mood balance, enhance joint health and improve other inflammatory conditions.

DHA Research indicates that DHA is extremely important to components of cellular membranes and is highly concentrated in all nervous system tissue including the brain and eyes. Dietary DHA improves cognitive and visual development and is protective against macular degeneration, stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. DHA is especially important during pregnancy and nursing.