Thursday, 18 September 2014


My husband's colleague made a remarkable note when he saw my other half having a wrap filled with chicken and avocado salad:

- You  know that avocado contains more fat than a bag of chips from Mc'Donalds?

Well, this is true as 41% of avocado is fat but French fries contain only 29% fat.
It is also true, that we should limit the amount of fat in our diet,
there is a huge difference between fat in avocados and fat in chips!

All low-fat product is a winner in the dieting industry - we know how tempting to choose the illusion of  so-called guilt-free, light products.  Fat became the most guilty food in the last century as researches proved the high-fat diet causes heart disease, cancer and obesity. However, our body does need some fats -we just need to know what kind of fats make a benefit and what kind of fats should be avoided.

Why we need fats? 

Fats - besides that they provide energy - regulate our body functions,  help to absorb and carry the fat-soluble Vitamins (like Vitamin A, D and E). And in this last role fat cannot be replaced with anything else.
So a completely fat-free diet is not healthy.
The recommended amount of fat is about 30-33% of our total daily calorie intake - the problem is that we do not eat the right kind of fat. In terms of health not all fats are equal.

What are the healthy fats?

There are three types of fats:

  1. Saturated fats:  like lard, butter, dairy products, palm oil - including Trans fats
  2. Polyunsaturated fats:
    1. Omega-3:  oily fish, walnut, line (flax) seed, pumpkin seed, soya bean
    2. Omega-6:  Vegetable oils like corn oil, sunflower oil, 
  3. Mono-unsaturated fats: olive oil, rapeseed oil, nut oils, nuts and seeds, avocados
By the way all fat-containing food contain all three fats - just in varying proportion.

So which one is the good for us?

It is depend on how the fat influence the level of good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL).
You can read more about cholesterol here.

Saturated fatty acids should be the most avoided category, as they raise the level of bad cholesterol. You can say, oh, I never eat animal fat, certainly not palm oil... Well, just check the label on long shelf life products like biscuits or processed snacks. Nearly all of them are made with palm oil. The problem is with fats that they are mostly hidden within processed food. That is why is it not so easy to measure or even just judge the daily intake of fats from processed food. The best way to avoid these if we completely cut them out - or at least limit to minimum these kind of products in our diet.

Trans fats are more harmful kind of fats. These are artificially hardened fats and they are even more damaging that natural saturated fats as these increase the level of bad cholesterol and lower the level of good cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated fats are better choice. They lower the level of bad cholesterol - but unfortunately they lower the level of good cholesterol too. We should not  miss them out from our diet though, as they contain essential fatty acids (what cannot be produced by our body, so we must get them from food). The solution is to include these kind of food in our diet but with limitation. For instance we should eat oily fish no more than two-three times a week.

Mono-unsaturated fats are the best category, they not just lower the level of bad cholesterol but the maintain the level of good cholesterol too. They lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. So these are the healthiest fats, they are our friend.

Fats are high in calories, so we need to be careful with the amount of fats in our diet. The best if we eat more from the good fats category and less from saturated and trans fats. So it is time to use more olive oil and munch on walnut, and the same time reduce the amount of butter - and forget palm oil containing biscuits. 

French fries vs. avocados

And this is the reason why is better choice to eat avocados instead of chips: McDonald's French fries high in saturated fat - so eating often gives us not just extra kilos on our waist but heart attack too. Avocados lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Okay, watch how much you eat - specially if you are on a weight loss diet. But anyway, a half avocado is enough to raise our dish to a new level. :-)

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