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Good fats – bad fatsHow unhealthy is fat really?? How much of it should one take daily and what has it with the so-called Trans fatty acids and hidden fats on itself?


Daily fat intake

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends that adults cover 30 percent of their daily energy intake with fats for a healthy diet. Fat intake is therefore based on the individual's total energy requirements.

With an average energy requirement of an adult of 2000 kilocalories (Kcal), this would be 67 grams (g) of fat per day, for example. That's about three tablespoons of olive oil (about 30 g), two teaspoons of butter (about 8 g), two slices of Gouda (about 15 g) and one Vienna sausage (about 15 g).

An unbalanced fat intake, in which a lot of fat is taken in at the same time as the energy intake is too high, and a lack of physical exercise can promote obesity as well as elevated blood fat levels, paving the way for other diseases such as diabetes mellitus or high blood prere.

Quality matters

For a long time, a low-fat diet was touted as particularly beneficial to health. In the meantime, however, it has become clear that, in addition to the quantity ingested, it is above all the quality of the fat that plays a decisive role and that healthy fats have a positive effect on health.

Fats from food can be of vegetable or animal origin. Whether from pumpkin seeds, peanuts, flaxseeds, olives, milk, meat or fish depending on the source there are very different fatty acid compositions. One speaks of saturated, monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids. The respective chemical structure has an influence on physical properties, such as melting point or consistency.

Healthy fats are those that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids. This is how they can be recognized: The more unsaturated fatty acids, the more fluid is the consistency of the fats.

Saturated fatty acids

Most saturated fatty acids are ingested through foods of animal origin. In particular, high-fat meat products, such as Vienna sausage, spreadable sausage or salami, and high-fat dairy products, such as cheese and cream, contribute to a high intake of saturated fatty acids. Vegetable coconut and palm kernel fat also contains around 80 percent saturated fatty acids and only a few unsaturated fatty acids. Palm oil is often used in confectionery, fast food and prepared meals.

Saturated fatty acids are rather unfavorable for health, as they increase cholesterol levels. In excess, saturated fatty acids can constrict blood vessels. Promote stroke or heart attack. Therefore, saturated fatty acids should not exceed ten percent of the total energy intake.

Monounsaturated fatty acids

Monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, can have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and figure if they replace saturated fats.

Good sources of monounsaturated fatty acids include olive oil, canola oil, nuts and seeds. Here, too, the DGE recommends covering about ten percent of the total energy intake with monounsaturated fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids can lower blood cholesterol and have a beneficial effect on blood prere and blood clotting by improving the flow properties of blood and preventing fatty deposits in blood vessels. In this way, they also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Seven to ten percent of total energy intake should fall on these fatty acids. Of particular importance are the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid and the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid. They are considered "essential" because the body cannot produce them itself.

The DGE recommends the intake of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 5 to 1, so that the omega-3 fatty acids can be well utilized by the body. German menus usually contain a larger proportion of omega-6 fatty acids, so a conscious intake of omega-3 fatty acids is recommended.

Beware of trans fatty acids!

Processed products are not only rich in saturated fatty acids, they also often contain trans fatty acids. These fats are an undesirable by-product of fat hardening or are formed when oils are heated too high.

Fat hardening is used to transform oils into a solid, spreadable state. Parts of the unsaturated fatty acids are converted into saturated fatty acids in the process. The use of hydrogenated fats is widespread in industrial food production and is used, for example, in the manufacture of baked goods such as puff pastry, confectionery and some ready meals. Frying can also produce trans fatty acids, so the content in French fries may also be elevated

Trans fatty acids are also found naturally in small amounts in milk fat and in beef or lamb meat. Unprocessed vegetable oils are free of trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids should provide less than one percent of food energy.

Which foods are suitable for a balanced fat intake?

Ideally, more plant-based foods and fewer animal-based foods should be consumed, and unprocessed vegetable oils should be preferred. In addition, care should be taken to minimize the consumption of sweet baked goods, convenience foods, fast food or fried snacks. In this way, less saturated fatty acids or trans fatty acids and more unsaturated fatty acids are automatically consumed.

When it comes to ready-made products, confectionery or fast food, a look at the list of ingredients can be helpful. If there is talk of "hydrogenated fats", caution is advisable.

If you are looking for a good oil for the kitchen, you should try rapeseed or olive oil. Both types of oil can be used for many different dishes and meals. Nut oils are also suitable.

When using oils or spreadable fats, it makes sense to pay attention to exact measurements so that not too much fat is added to food unnecessarily. For the use of butter or margarine on bread. Bread rolls applies: no more than one teaspoon of spreadable fat per slice of bread.

Meat and cheese lovers should go for lean meats such as pork cutlets, skinless poultry or beef goulash, and for dairy products and cheese, go for lower-fat varieties.

Fish, especially fatty sea fish, occupies a special position among animal foods because it is particularly rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Above all, the high proportion of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids makes fish oils indispensable for the diet. Therefore, fish should be on the menu once or twice a week, including one portion of fatty sea fish such as herring, mackerel or salmon.

Among cooking oils, good suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids are walnut, rapeseed and linseed oil.

Algae oils, derived from microalgae, are another vegan option for ingesting omega-3 fatty acids. For the production the algae are bred in aquaculture. The oil extracted from marine plants in a complex process.

Attention: Hidden fats!

When you think of fat, the first thing that comes to mind is the visible use of butter, olive oil or margarine. Many processed foods consist of a not too small amount of fat – even if you don't see it directly on them. For example, potato chips or a seemingly harmless cappuccino end up being real fat bombs. When recommending fat intake, these hidden fats are also included in the bill! In addition, these are often saturated fatty acids.

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