We’ve recently been talking about understanding the new healthy-eating concept of Good fats vs. Bad fats and especially how they relate to Cholesterol- the trick being the type of fats eaten, and not just the amount of fat when it comes to our blood cholesterol.
Today, we’ll get into more specific and practical examples of our common African food sources that contain these types of fats and cholesterol.
CAUTION: As already previously mentioned, fats & oil are the food class with the highest calories, so LESS is more!
The essence of this list below is to help in choosing the healthier types of fats that should be eaten. In fact, even the healthiest of them may very well loose the “healthy fat” tag if consumed in large amounts.
As a general rule of thumb, fats should averagely account for 30% of our daily food/calorie intake.
EVEN HEALTHY FATS SHOULD BE EATEN IN SMALL AMOUNTS! #CaloriesCount
Our most Common African food sources of Good fats vs. Bad fats
Common Food Sources of UNSATURATED FATS
Unsaturated fats are the “Good Fats” which are also referred to as ‘healthy fats’ because they decrease our blood levels of Cholesterol and so are quite protective of the heart. They are generally classified into the “Mono-Unsaturated Fats” and “Poly-Unsaturated Fats”.
A pleasant surprise about these good fats category of food is its predominance in different types of oil. Here are some classic examples of healthy fat/oil foods:
Diverse types of cooking & eating oil such as
- Ground nut oil
- Olive oil
- Other food decoration & eating oils like: Sesame seed oil, Sunflower oil, Canola oil, Corn oil, etc
Also in Fishes, especially
Some fruits and Nuts such as
Bedside these naturally existing food stuff, there are several off-the-shelf foods that are often marketed as good sources of unsaturated fats. Your best bet is to deliberately look beyond fancy cover photos to check out their actual content labels and be sure the manufacturers are not merely exchanging the bad fats for empty calories or excess calories from highly refined Carbohydrates or Sugars! (Learn how to understand food labels).
Common Food Sources of SATURATED FATS
Saturated fats are the ones tagged as the “Bad Fats” which are the so called ‘unhealthy fats’ because they increase our blood levels of Cholesterol, hence endanger the heart and other blood vessels. They are typically classified into the “Saturated Fats” and the “Trans-Fats”.
Of the lot, the Trans-Fats are the worse because they are a direct by-product of hydrogenation, meaning, as far as this conversation goes, Trans-Fats are the official definition of UNHEALTHY!
The concept of firing up cooking oil with a hydrogen atom in an edible state came up as an innovative solution for converting the naturally occurring liquid oil into a more solid form; a state where it is more suitable for industrialized food processing (it enhances taste, texture and is more stable while cooking with high temperatures, and also less likely to spoil). This is why it is conveniently popular among fast foods eateries and restaurants.
Here are some of the commonest foods within our environment that they are found in
- Whole Fat Diary milk
- Palm oil/Palm kernel
- Fatty cuts of Meat (beef, pork) & Chicken Skin
- Coconut oil
- Ice Cream
- Commercially baked Pastries like Snacks
- Candy bar
- Processed foods
Whenever possible, it is best to avoid Trans-fats.
On food labels, ensure that the Trans Fats line reads 0gram. If completely omitted, scan for “partially hydrogenated”– which is just a coded name for Trans-fat!
AGAIN, when you’ve gotten a grip of choosing the right type of Good fats and how to avoid Cholesterol, don’t forget to STILL KEEP YOUR INTAKE LOW as fats have lots of Calories.
A casual comparison of the list above is quite revealing as it would seem that the unsaturated fats list has more of the oils! While the unhealthy fats list contains the types of food that we often indulge in.
In addition to the health-risks associated with Cholesterol, the more weight-conscious folks among us probably need to learn a lesson or two about “FAT-FREE” foods.