Fats are “hidden” in many foods. But aren’t there “good” fats?
Fats can be found in really many foods – even in healthy ones. The more fat in a product, the higher its calorie content, since fat is a concentrated source of calories. One gram of fat contains 9 calories – twice as much as one gram of protein or carbohydrate (4 calories). Thus, adding even a small amount of fat to recipes can significantly increase the total calories.
As a rule, fats from vegetable sources are better than fats from animal sources. Vegetable fats, such as oils in olives, nuts, seeds, flax, and avocados, are rich sources of vitamin E, phytochemicals (protective or disease-fighting plant compounds), and essential fatty acids, which include omega-3 fatty acids and are beneficial for hearts with monounsaturated fats.
There is no single recommendation for the amount of vegetable fats to include in your diet. In any case, if you overdo it even with good fats, the result will be an excessive number of calories and extra grams of fat in your body. While fat does improve the flavor of foods, it does not make meals more satisfying. This is one of the pitfalls of fatty foods. Many low-calorie foods, such as whole grains and vegetables, fill your body much better because they are full of complex carbohydrates and high in fiber. By eating these foods, we are satiated before we have time to consume a lot of calories from them.
Imagine how you feel when you eat a serving of ice cream or a large orange. You will probably feel equally full, but with an orange, you get far fewer calories. It is desirable that vegetable fats make up 10-30% of your daily diet. If you are watching your weight, then, of course, the less fat, the better.
Are there absolutely bad fats?
Partially hydrogenated oils are not healthy at all. Originally formulated for long-term storage, these specially processed oils contain trans fats, substances known to increase cholesterol levels and the risk of coronary heart disease.
There is simply no safe level of consumption of trans fats. Food labels indicate how many trans fats a product contains. You may notice that they are found mainly in highly processed foods and in most brands of margarine and confectionery fat, ingredients that are often used in recipes for pies, cookies, cakes, etc.
What other ingredients need to be monitored?
Another high-calorie ingredient with no health benefits is sugar. One cup of hot tea, for example, is calorie-free, but add a couple of teaspoons of sugar and that same cup has about 30 calories. By drinking three cups of tea a day, you are consuming an extra 90 calories. No matter how much you like sweeteners – sugar, honey, maple syrup or corn syrup – it is highly advisable to keep their consumption to a minimum, since they contain almost no nutrients.
People who consume 2000 calories per day are advised to limit their sugar intake to 10 teaspoons per day. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually about half the amount of sugar that most people currently consume.
Bottom line: Try to eat only raw vegetable fats, limit fried foods, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils. If you’re watching your calorie intake, it makes sense to cut down on even vegetable oils and added sugars as much as possible.