Last month we covered how to control the use of oils in cooking by always measuring the amount you are using. This month we are going into further detail on using and consuming fats. Fats are a necessary part of all of our diets, but knowing the difference between bad and good fats is the key to controlling LDL cholesterol and preventing heart disease.
The bad fats, known as saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, hydrogenated fats, and dietary cholesterol are known to raise blood cholesterol, which can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease. These fats include all red meat, lard, poultry fat, all oils that have been “hydrogenated”, and all dairy products that have 2 percent milk fat or higher. These should not exceed 4-5% of your daily caloric intake. Foods from plants that contain saturated fat include coconuts and palm oil (often called tropical oils) and cocoa butter.
When eating in a restaurant, it is always a good idea to ask if they are deep frying in hydrogenated oils. If they do not know, chances are they are using hydrogenated oil, and you should stay away from any deep fried products on their menu. Non-hydrogenated frying oils tend to be a bit more expensive, and a lot of restaurants tend to try to skip out on the added expense.
The Good fats, known as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats appear to not raise LDL cholesterol and should represent a majority of the fat in your diet. These include most vegetable oils, fish, seeds, and nuts. They should not exceed 15-17% of your daily caloric intake.
My favorite of these oils is extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. It is highly flavorful, easy to cook with, and very good for you. When purchasing olive oil, it is important to make sure it is extra virgin and cold pressed. Extra virgin means that the oil was produced by machine without the use of chemicals. Cold-pressed means that the temperature was kept below 35° Celsius during the processing. This helps retain flavor and preserves the nutrition of the olive. The color should be a rich medium-green, not yellow. Stay away from anything that says “100% olive oil” or “pomace oil” as these tend to be of the lowest quality and may have been processed by chemical means. Lastly, it is not important to purchase the most expensive bottle. Buy one that looks good and fits your budget and enjoy!
For further information concerning Good and Bad Fats go to AmericanHeart.org