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Fat and Cholesterol: How Much is Too Much? — an article on the Smart Living Network
February 8, 2010 at 4:39 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Fat and Cholesterol: How Much is Too Much?

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How much is too much? Figuring out fat and cholesterol can be tough. Managing the fat and cholesterol in your diet can be confusing. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and know the basics on fat and cholesterol.

How much fat and cholesterol do I need?

For good health you need to have some fats present in your diet. The key is to choose the right kinds of fats, and to not overdo it.

  • Read the Nutritional Facts panel on food packaging.
  • Look for shorthand messages in label terms. ("fat free" "low fat")
  • Balance total fat and saturated fat over time.
  • Try lower fat foods.
  • Cook smart.
  • Learn about transaturated fat.

What is the difference between the "bad" and "good" fats?

The bad fats tend to make blood cholesterol levels worst. This includes saturated fats (mostly found in fats from animals) and trans fats.
Saturated Fats:

  • Skin of poultry
  • Seafood
  • Whole milk and whole milk products
  • Seafood
  • Yolks from eggs
  • Palm oil, or palm kernel oil

Good fats usually help blood cholesterol level. Unsaturated fats are considered "good" and are derived from plants (vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.) The two categories are polysaturated fats and monosaturated fats. Polysaturated fats come from sunflower, corn and soybean oil, whereas polysaturated fats come from peanut, canola, and olive oils.

What are helpful hints for lowering my intake of fat?

  • Avoid store-bought bakery products.
  • Reduce intake of fast foods.
  • Reduce intake of processed foods.
  • While dining out, avoid fried foods.

What happens if I eat too much fat?

Having too much of any kind of fat (fat, saturated fat, trans fat or cholesterol) may increase risk to certain disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

What do the food labels mean?

Food labels were recently revamped to meet new legal standards set by the government. Reading the nutrition panel can help you make healthy eating choices:

  • If a product states: fat-free, then it must have less than .5 grams of fat per serving.
  • For a product to be lean, then it must have less than 10 grams of fat per serving. If a product is considered either light or lite, then it must have 3rd fewer calories.
  • If a product is cholesterol-free, then it must be less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol.

Sources:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fats.html

http://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/fns/Nutritional/FoodLabel.htm

Photo Credit: Edsel L

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