Most of us know there’s a major difference between the fat we find in olives and the kind we find at the drive-through. But do you know your saturated fats from your omega-3s? Knowing which fats are healthiest means you’ll likely wear less on your body.
1. Where does most of the cholesterol in your body come from?
Not all cholesterol is malicious: The liver naturally produces enough HDL or “good” cholesterol to keep our bodies humming – without it we’d have no vitamin D and bile. The rest comes from food – up to 300 mg daily. But when we over eat saturated fats, our livers make excess LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which hardens into heart-clogging plaque. That’s why only eating cholesterol-free foods to lower your levels may not be enough. If you’re at risk, avoid eating trans fats, saturated fats and animal products – all high sources of the stuff. Eating polyunsaturated fats (found in soybean and sesame oils) will help your liver make the “good” kind, which cleans up excess cholesterol in the blood, transporting it to the liver where it’s junked.
2. How much fat can a food contain to be labeled low-fat?
Answer: Three grams or less
Not only can fat labels mislead, but we tend to eat up to 50 percent more calories when the label says low-fat! A fat-free product can also contain a tiny amount of fat – less than 0.5 grams to earn that label. But low-fat and fat-free don’t translate to “scot-free” or “eat as much as you want.” These foods often come with high quantities of artificial additives. One recent study by researchers at Purdue University even suggests that zero-calorie sweeteners may cause dieters to pack on more body fat compared to those who eat regular sugar. That diet soda may not be helping after all.
3. Which of these omega fatty-acid supplements is best for the average diet?
Answer: Omega 3
Ditch your daily omega 3-6-9 supplement and stick with just omega 3s, which most of us are deficient in. While all omega fatty acids are essential, our diets are shown to be overly abundant in omega 6s and getting too much of these can cause inflammation and may even lead to heart disease and stroke. American diets tend to have 15 to 30 times more 6s than 3s. Since the 6s and 3s compete with each other in the body, decreasing your 6s while upping your 3s is a good idea too. Omega-3 supplements are a safe bet: they’re the all-star fatty acid that can aid depression and prevent some types of cancers.
4. Which of these foods contains the highest source of omega-3 fatty acids?
Answer: 1 serving of salmon
While each of these foods is an excellent source of omega 3s, cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel and tuna) provide the best supply. The next best source is flaxseed oil – a great option for vegetarians. Omega 3 is especially essential because it can’t be produced by the body. It’s even been shown to improve cardiovascular health, protect against diabetes and slow the onset of Alzheimer’s. You’ll want to eat two servings of fish each week or one tbsp of flaxseed oil per day to get enough.
5. Which of these fast food items is highest in fat?
Answer: KFC poutine
You have identified the fattiest of them all. Clocking in at a hefty 970 calories and 54 grams of fat, this is one drive-through food to pass on by. Intake of fat should account for no more than 30 percent of daily calories based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This poutine provides almost all the fat anyone should consume in a single day (about 60g), let alone one sitting. The worst news is that most fast food menus are rife with saturated fats which stimulate the liver to make “bad” cholesterol.
How close was your guess? Here’s how the other options weigh in:
Burger King double whopper: 850 calories, 51g of fat
Tim Hortons small Iced Capp: 250 calories, 11g of fat
Pizza Pizza Mediterranean vegetarian square slice: 500 calories, 16g of fat
6. Which of the following contains the highest levels of trans fat?
Answer: Hard margarine
For every tbsp of hard margarine there’s three grams of trans fat, making this one of the deadliest products out there. While butter has no trans fat, it is very rich in saturated fat. Choose soft-tub margarine or olive oil. The more liquid the fat, the less hydrogenated, and therefore, the less harmful trans fats it contains. Cities such as New York and Calgary have already banned trans fats, which damage the heart as they up “bad” cholesterol while also lowering your “good” heart-protective cholesterol. Avoid food labels listing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. Be aware of where they would appear besides hard margarine: doughnuts, fried foods and processed baked goods. We should be eating less than two grams of trans fats per day yet latest estimates show Canadians consume 4.5 grams daily.
7. Which of these is richest in saturated fat?
Limit your intake of these nasty saturated fats, which trigger inflammation, leading to migraines and achy joints. Even worse, they’re linked with heart disease because they stimulate the liver to make “bad” cholesterol, causing lesions in our artery walls. Our bodies make plaque as a Band-Aid for these lesions, but that plaque also clogs arteries over time. Up to seven percent of our daily calories should come from saturated fats – that’s about 144 calories.
8. One pound of body fat is equivalent to:
Answer: All of the above
One pound of fat = 3,500 calories and each gram of fat you take in is nine calories. Also equivalent to one pound of fat: 79.5 raw red peppers, 14 Boston cream doughnuts, 9 plain bagels with cream cheese, 33 bananas and 21 handfuls of almonds. Quite obviously, these foods are not created equal on the fat-front but what matters is choosing the right types of meals that contain the best fats. Now that you know, lead the pro-fat crusade.
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