In a previous blog I talked about the good kind of fats. Now It’s time we focus on those bad fats that we should all be avoiding.
The “Bad” Fat called Trans fats do not appear in nature. They were invented in a laboratory to be a healthy alternative to artery-clogging saturated fats. But in a classic case of consumer science gone wrong, trans fats are now estimated to cause 50,000 deaths a year by promoting heart disease and cancer as well as dementia and diabetes. Dubbed “the worst kind of fat” by detractors, these Franken fats are even worse than the artery-clogging saturated fats in butter, well-marbled steaks, and ice cream. Both raise levels of heart-threatening LDL cholesterol but trans fats also hike up dangerous chemicals like triglycerides and lipoprotein (a), depress levels of “good guy” HDL Cholesterol, and even make cells more resistant to insulin – a step toward diabetes. They also fire up low-level inflammation which is a chronically “on alert” immune response linked with heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Unfortunately, It took a long time before scientists discovered the damage that trans fats cause. In the meantime, food manufacturers had already made trans fats key ingredients. Today, they are in at least 42,000 food products helping to keep sticks of margarines solid at room temperature, making packaged cakes moist, and keeping boxed cookies and chips crunchy. But a growing stack of research confirms that trans fats are health robbers – and in response more and more trans-fat-free processed foods are becoming available (but keep reading the labels. Now that food manufacturers must list trans fats on food labels, some may revert to saturated fat-rich palm or coconut oi, experts warn. Those are not healthy alternatives)
Here is how to steer clear of bad fats- and fill your fat quota with the good stuff every day.
Permanently ban factory-made cookies, crackers, and other baked goods from your diet. Instead, snack on individually wrapped dark chocolates, crunchy nuts, or raisins. Some experts estimate that up to 95 percent of prepared cookies and 100 percent of crackers may contain Trans-fat. More trans-fat-free options appear every day, but these snack foods provide tons of age-accelerating saturated fat, sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, and calories. But don’t give up treats! An ounce of dark chocolate provides heart-healthy antioxidants. A small handful of nuts (about 19 nuts, the amount that would fit into a breath mint box) or a small box of raisins provide lots of flavor and chewing satisfaction as well as a wealth of fiber and antioxidants, and, for the nuts, good fats that protect arteries.
Say no to commercially fried foods. Get a grilled chicken sandwich instead of the crispy fried version, and have a salad in place of fresh fries.
Bake – and spread – good fats. If you’ve been eating stick margarine instead of butter, the news about trans-fat may find you rethinking your spread of choice. Don’t throw in the towel and return to butter. Instead of trans- fat-heavy stick margarine (or some brands of tub margarine) look for one with no saturated or trans fats, such as brands made with yogurt of olive oil. The best provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and even a smidge of omega-3 fatty acids.
Unmask Hidden Trans fat. A product can claim “0 trans fat” and still have up to .5 grams per serving. Check the label for ingredients like “partially hydrogenated”, fractionated and even shortening. The higher on the list these terms appear, the more fat is in the food.
Drink coffee, not fat. Love special coffee drinks? Order a latte or cappuccino with fat-free milk and a shot of low-sugar flavor syrup, then sprinkle cinnamon, cocoa powder, and vanilla over the foam.
Replace the butter in recipes and sautéing with good for you oils. Use canola oil for baking – a good rule of thumb is ¾ teaspoon of oil for every 1 tablespoon of butter called for. Keep an oil spritzer loaded with olive oil near the stove and spray pans before cooking.
Have a fancy fruit salad deluxe instead of premium ice cream. Fancy ice cream can contain as much fat as a fast-food double cheeseburger. Switching to an all-fruit sorbet is a better choice but will still food your body with loads of extra sugar in most cases. The best choice: Indulge in an over-the-top fruit salad. Layer frozen raspberries, sliced mango, super-sweet fresh pineapple (buy it pre-cut in the produce department), mandarin oranges packed in juice, and whatever else you love. It’s colorful, sweet, and fun to eat – and gives you a bonus of age-defying antioxidants and fiber.
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