Regardless of the kind, fats and oils adds to the satisfaction derived from the food we eat. For weight management, fats and oils provide twice as much calories as other macronutrients do. One gram each of carbohydrate and protein provides 4 calories but same amount of fat provides 9 calories. It also helps in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
The kind of fat matters especially on blood vessels and the heart. Saturated fat which increases total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) known as bad cholesterol thereby contributing to the development of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. All animal meat, butter, cheese, chocolate, coconut oil, cream, hydrogenated oils, shortening, whole milk and palm oil are good sources of saturated fat. The better fat is unsaturated fat mostly from plant oils and is of two kinds. Monounsaturated fats which decrease total fat and bad cholesterol without decreasing the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) which is the good cholesterol. Good sources are safflower oil, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, peanut oil and avocado. Polyunsaturated fats may decrease total cholesterol, HDL and LDL are found in sunflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, linseed, almonds.
Don’t forget the essential fatty acids which are part of vital body structure like the brain and nervous system; plays a role in the immune system and vision and which help reduce incidence of blood clots, lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Omega-3 is sourced out from fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel while omega-6 is sourced out from vegetable oils. The essential fatty acids need to be sourced out from the diet.
Then there is what is regarded as the worst kind of fat – transfats. It increases the bad cholesterol and inflammation. It makes blood easier to clot and lowers the good cholesterol. Transfats are created when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fats to make them solid and prolong the shelf life of food products like bakery products less.
Next time you buy a packaged food item, read the nutrition label. The product with lower percent RENI or % DV is a better choice. Every serving of protein-rich food such as one matchbox-size of pork or beef, regular size or slice of fish, one slice of chicken or one piece egg, provides as much as six grams of fat (54 kcal). One teaspoon of fat or oil yields 45 kcal. Before you eat your meat and other protein-rich foods, know that even pure lean meat contains marbled fat that is not visible.
For daily eating, be guided by the Food Pyramid for Filipinos. Fats and oils are at the tip to indicate that, like sugars and other sweets, fats and oils should comprise the least or minimum amount in our daily diet. The Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos also mention limiting fatty foods. So we can use them in our food but with limit, say 5-6 teaspoons in one day for adults.