Fatty Foods and Your Healthby Myreille Simard
published February 16, 2009
It’s not a secret; nutritionists have been saying for years that what we put on our plate has severe repercussions on our health. Particularly, ‘bad’ fats heighten our risk of heart disease. This does not mean we have to eliminate fat from our diet completely; just that we have to be careful to consume an appropriate quantity of ‘good’ fats. Here’s a guide to help you out.
The consequences of a diet rich in fat
Consuming a large quantity of ‘bad’ fats on a frequent basis starts up a domino effect on your health, which increases your risk of having high cholesterol. ‘Bad’ cholesterol then builds up inside the arteries which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Recommended daily fat intake
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, our consumption of fats should represent between 20 and 30% of our daily calorie intake. This equals between 45 and 75 grams of fat per day for women, depending on their weight, age and waistline. Ideally, under 7% of this fat should come from saturated fats.
To calculate the exact number of fat you need to consume, visit our Caloric Needs Calculator to find out the ideal number of calories you should consume on a daily basis.
Next, calculate between 20 and 35% of this number to get a range. For example, if your ideal daily caloric intake is 1500 calories, you’ll get a range of 300 (20%) to 525 (35%) calories that should be fats. To obtain the results in the form of grams, divide the small number (300) and the large number (525) by nine, where one gram of fat is the equivalent to nine calories. Finally, you’ll find out that your fat intake should be between 33 and 58 grams per day.
Most oils are added fat that are actually recommended for your health. Canada’s Food Guide suggests you consume 2 or 3 tablespoons of unsaturated oils (like canola, sunflower and olive oils) per day, or soft, non-hydrogenated margarine.
Which fats to avoid, which to favour
Eliminate as many saturated and trans fats as possible. Saturated and trans fats can be found in many foods including chips, cookies, frozen meals, cakes, and muffins. Look for the label ‘0 Trans Fat’ on the packaging and consult the nutritional contents and ingredients to ensure that only non-hydrogenated fats and oils were used.
Take advantage of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Among polyunsaturated fats there are omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish such as salmon, sardines and trout. Add some variety to your meals by incorporating fish more often instead of meat. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, studies have shown that people who eat fish at least once per week are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Non-hydrogenated oils and nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats.