Let’s talk about fat. Not what’s in between your thighs (though I’m sure there’s not much, slender) but what you eat. Whether it comes from a cheeseburger, peanut butter, salmon, or mayonnaise, it’s important to know what you’re doing to your body when you put these foods in your mouth.
It’s recommended that not more than 30% of your calories come from fat. Say your daily goal is 1,400 calories. Since fat has 9 calories/gram (this is what makes foods with high fat content very high in calories as well), you’ll be allowed about 45 grams of fat per day.
Now that you know how much you should be having, let’s break things down into the two major categories of fat– saturated or unsaturated.
Saturated: this is the type of fat that’s solid at room temperature. It mostly comes from animal sources like dairy, cheese, and meat. Some oils (coconut, palm, cocoa butter) also contribute to your saturated fat intake. Alarms should go off when you encounter a food with a high saturated fat content, as there is a strong, positive correlation between saturated fat consumption and high cholesterol levels. It’s one thing to let boys mess with your heart, but bacon and chocolate? Come on now, you’re better than that. Limit your intake to about 14-18 grams per day.
Trans: these fats are the black sheep of the bunch. They don’t quite fit into either of the main categories because they’ve been fiddled with by the hands of man. Trans fats are those that have been treated by the process of hydrogenation, creating a vegetable fat that will have a longer shelf-life. This makes for a desirable texture and flavor in processed foods like chips, crackers, and pastries, but it does absolutely nothing positive for your health. In fact, they hurt your body by decreasing the levels of good cholesterol in your body. Take home message? Avoid at all costs.
Unsaturated: unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. This should make sense to you if you’ve witnessed the glorification of plant oils like olive oil, sesame oil, corn oil, etc. The health properties of these types of fat will actually improve your cholesterol levels. Who knew?
- Monounsaturated: these are also known as omega-9 fatty acids. Some of the best sources include olives, avocados, peanut butter, and halibut.
- Polyunsaturated: you know what these are, but you might not know that you know what these are. Heard of our healthy friends omega-3 and omega-6? Well, they’re polyunsaturated. Get your 3s from seafood (salmon is the most well-known source), soybean oil, flaxseed, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach. Chances are you’re probably getting your fill of 6s from vegetable oils which are used for frying many foods.