Fat is a tricky substance. We need some fat in our diet, but too much of it can be a dangerous thing. Current NHS recommendations warn against excessive consumption of saturated fat, citing a correlation between high fat diets and numerous health issues, including high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
High fat diets also have other side effects. Fat is a relatively calorie dense substance, so someone who eats a plate full of high fat foods will consume more calories than someone who eats a similarly sized plate full of lean meat and green, leafy vegetables. Excessive calorie consumption leads to weight gain, which can cause other health problems.
The “fat is bad” message has caused many people to cut back massively on their fat intake, instead consuming a diet high in carbohydrates and with a moderate amount of protein. Unfortunately, if taken to extremes, low fat diets can be just as dangerous as high fat ones.
Fat is Not Evil
Our bodies need some fat to survive. Fat is useful because it helps the body to absorb nutrients. In addition, fat can be a source of essential fatty acids building blocks for the body. The body cannot make these fatty acids itself, so we have to eat a small amount of fat each day in order to stay healthy.
Finding the Good Kinds of Fat
There are three different kinds of fat: saturated fats, trans fats and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fat is found in meat and dairy products. Unsaturated fat is found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in animal products and are also present in foods made with hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Generally speaking, unsaturated fat is considered to be a “good fat”, while trans fats and saturated fat are thought to be dangerous. These fats occur in only small amounts in meat and dairy products and hydrogenated vegetable oil is rarely used in food production these days.
Over-consumption of saturated fat is still an issue, however. The NHS advises that adult men should consume no more than 30g of saturated fat per day, while adult women should consume no more than 20g of saturated fat each day. Eating too much saturated fat may increase your blood cholesterol levels and increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Planning for Family, Holiday or Work/Charity Events this Season?
For your family, try your local health food store or natural grocer, choose foods that are fresh like raw vegetables and lean meats. For a holiday event, try appetizers that are focused around vegetables and meals that are not heavy in grease or fried foods. For dessert opt for fruits, sorbet or parfait. If you are involved in planning a work function or are part of an organization’s holiday dinner this year, don’t be concerned about the health content in the menu choices, instead speak to a charities solicitor. Many hotels & venues offer healthy eating courses, which may help you to plan better food offerings for your employees and customers.
As people become more aware of the importance of protecting their health, it is becoming easier to make healthy food choices. Supermarkets are reducing the salt and fat content of their products and food labeling is becoming clearer and easier to understand. If you want to protect your health, take the time to read the labels of the food products that you buy. Consider eating less red meat and fewer fried products and instead opting for a diet containing lots of nuts, green leafy vegetables and oily fish.
This guest post has been contributed by Zoe on behalf of Barlow Robbins Solicitors.