'Bad' fats

Readers, various vocal cardiologists such as Dr Malhotra, now believe that saturated fats are unfairly demonised by the medical profession, and believe that they are important and don't cause the damage to our arteries of which they have long-since been accused. However, until a long-term clinical study has proven otherwise, we are choosing to follow the Mediterranean diet, focusing on 'good' fats. 

A diet which is high in saturated and trans fats can lead to high cholesterol in the blood and to coronary heart disease, which is where the heart’s arteries become restricted due to fatty build-up.

 

Current government dietary advice is that an average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat each day, and the average woman no more than 20g. We, however, try to eat considerably less than this.

 

There is a school of thought that saturated fats have been unfairly demonised, but many heart charities and the NHS are reluctant to change their guidelines until more research is carried out.

 

  • Sources of saturated fat:

Processed meats like sausages, ham, burgers, fatty meat, hard cheeses including cheddar, whole milk, cream, butter, lard, ghee, suet, palm oil and coconut oil.

 

Trans fats should be avoided. While some naturally occurring trans fats are found in some dairy, such as creams and cheeses, and some meats, including beef, lamb and mutton, artificial trans fats should be given a wide berth. They occur when vegetable oils are ‘hydrogenated’, a process where hydrogen is added to harden the oils and make them semi-solid. These fats are often used in frying and baking and the process is sometimes used by the food industry to give food a longer shelf life. Foods containing hydrogenated fats will almost certainly contain trans fats.

 

Trans fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke by increasing the bad cholesterol and lowering the good cholesterol in your blood. They also increase your chance of developing type-2 diabetes.

 

  • Sources of trans fats:

Fried foods, takeaways, snacks like biscuits, cakes or pastries and hard margarines.

Coconut oil

Not strictly a 'bad fat', coconut oil has become a huge deal recently, with some food bloggers pedalling it as a miracle substance, perfect for everything from protein balls and fried eggs, to eye bags and teeth whitening.

 

It has subsequently been found to have an enormously high saturated fat content – more than butter, and the same as beef dripping, according to the American Heart Association.

 

Despite widespread wonderful health claims, some researchers say the claims are unfounded and themselves claim coconut oil is actually deficient in the essential fatty acids we need and so is worse for us than lard or palm oil.

 

Due to the high saturated fat content, unproven health and nutrition claims, widespread counter claims and the expense to buy it, we have personally decided not to use it in our diet.

 

All fats contain 9kcal per gram, so in excess all fats, good and bad, can make us put on weight.

 

*Source: British Dietetics Association

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