Just when you thought that fat was the Saddam Hussein of nutrition, along come the peacemakers - the good fats! Over the last 10 years, fat has had a bad rap. Every product, weight-loss programme and exercise routine blurts out 'fat-free', 'only 2% fat' or 'fat-reduced." It's like fat is the evil wrongdoer that everyone wants to eliminate. As a result, there are plenty of myths surrounding fats and the foods that allegedly contain fat.
Let's start off by saying that the human body was never designed to have a completely fat-free diet. All fats and fat-soluble vitamins have important functions in the body. Sometimes, complete avoidance of fats can lead to an insufficient intake of fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamin E, which is important for your skin and immune function. So instead of saying 'no' to fat, remember that fat in moderate quantities is crucial to health and can also make eating a lot more pleasurable.
Check out these myths and find out how to include the 'right' fats in your diet.
Avo's are bad.
Avocados not only taste great in a salad, but are rich in monounsaturated fats (good fats) and various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, folic acid, potassium and vitamin E. They also contain small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, biotin and vitamin C. 33g of avocado contains 5g fat (equivalent to 1 teaspoon of oil).
FIT tip: Add half an avo to a green salad or mix it with fat-free cottage cheese. Spread on a slice of rye bread or two Ryvitas as a snack, once a week.
Olives are fattening
Olives are rich in monounsaturated fat (74% of the total fat). Ten small olives or five large olives are equivalent to one teaspoon of oil. Olives contain small amounts of Vitamin A and calcium.
FIT tip: Add five to 10 small olives to your salad once or twice a week. Opt for the Spanish style olives, which are stuffed with red peppers, or pre-pitted olives if you don't like olives because of the pips.
Nuts are fattening
Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats. Most nuts are rich in phosphorus and potassium. Hazel and almond nuts are rich in vitamin E. Add one to two tablespoons of nuts to your salad or breakfast cereal, or add raisins or other dried fruit or seeds, like sunflower, linseed, sesame and pumpkin seeds as a snack.
FIT tip: If you have a bit of a nut addiction - you just cannot stop at one or two mouthfuls - rather opt for cereals or snacks with pre-added nuts, otherwise you are bound to overdose on your total daily fat intake.
Olive oil is good for you, so you can drench your salad in it
The 'good for you' part is true. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat. However, you still need to watch your total daily fat intake, because it contains the same amount of kilojoules as any other oil, like sunflower oil.
FIT tip: Invest in an oil spray container (available from Home ETC and Woolworths) for both home and work, so that you can spray your olive oil on your salad instead of drenching it. It is preferable to only spray the olive oil just before eating, otherwise the olive oil tends to get absorbed, leaving the salad dry.
Completely avoid all saturated fats
The body still needs low doses of saturated fats, which you will get in your lean meat, chicken and low-fat milk and yoghurt and low-fat cheeses. Food plays an important role in enjoying life! Complete deprivation of 'bad' foods will surely lead to a decrease in one of the basic pleasures of life. Nutritionists and dieticians tend to use the expression 'in moderation' which, for most of us, is
FIT tip: Have one 'high-fat meal' a week, whether it's a pizza or pasta with a high-fat cheese sauce. Enjoy it and don't feel guilty. If your dietician has advised you otherwise, especially it you have high blood cholesterol levels, please discuss the above with her/him before including this in your weekly intake.
Although bacon and macon are high in saturated fats, eating two to three grilled rashers (preferably lean ones) with a poached or scrambled egg once or twice a month (Sunday breakfast) should help limit the damage but still allow for variety and gratification.
What is low-fat?
When shopping, check the fat content on the product labels. Low-fat is usually described as being equivalent to less than 5g fat per 100g food portion (some nutritionists recommend less than 3g per 100g, but this tends to lead to restrictive eating). There are exceptions. For example, pesto sauce and other sauces may have more than 5g fat per 100g, but because you will only use two teaspoons (equivalent to 5g fat) per serving of food or to make a portion of pesto pasta, there is no need to blacklist it! Most low-fat cheddar cheeses in South Africa are not less than 5g fat per 100g. Again, there is no need to completely avoid these, rather use less, such as 25g grated with another protein food, like lean ham or chicken in a salad.