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Fats

This differs from person to person, so below there are some approxiamate figures based on 30 per cent of kilojoule intake as total fat. By reading food labels to see how much fat is in different foods , you'll see that some high-fat foods, such as chocolate, burgers and fries, csn esily eat into your daily tally. Something for you to note, saturated and trans-fats should only be 10 per cent of your fat intake and not 30! According to the NHMRC, an adequate intake of omega-3 fat should be 160mg/day for men and 90mg/day for women. It is, however, a lot harder to monitor your intake of these fats, as food labels do not often list the different amounts. The best approach would be to include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and you'll improve your omega-6 to omega-3 ration at the same time!

Fat in the Body

Polyunsaturated fats: Is mainly found in plant foods, incuding sunflower, soy bean, safflower oils, and nuts and seeds. It is also foundin oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats; omega-3 fats are mainly found in fish and omega-6 are mainly found in vegetable oils. Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated fats: Is found in oils including canola and olive oils, and other plant food including avocados, nuts and seeds, as well as in lean meat. Monosaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature, but may solidify in cold temperatures. Thes fats can also help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Saturated fats: Is usually solid at room temperature and is mainly found in animal foods such as processed fatty meats, and dairy foods such as milk, cheese and butter. It is also found in some plant foods, including coconut and palm oil. Saturated fat ios most often used in the manufacture of commercial foods, such as cakes, biscuits, confectionery, takeaway food etc. It is the type of fat that raises blood cholesterol and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Trans fat: Is found mainly in deep fried foods and processed foods made with shortening and some margarines. It is used by food manufacturers to get the right consistency in foods such as cakes and pastries. Trans fat increases the level of "bad" LDL cholesterol in much the same way as saturated fat. And worse, it seems to also lower the concentration of "good" HDL cholesterol that's protective against heart disease.

Cholesterol: Is only found in animal foods - not in plants. It is a fatty substance that is an important part of all animals, including humans. Our bodies produce it naturally, even if we don't eat it. Cholesterol is a problem when there is too much in our blood. Eating too much saturated fat can cause highy blood cholesterol.

Sterols: Occur naturally in all plants. Plant sterols work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol, leading to reduced levels of cholesterol in the blood. They have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels by an average of 10 per cent, depending on how much is consumed. The concentration of sterols in plants is quite low, and they do not provide a sufficient amount to lower cholesterol absorption, however, recent advances in manufacturing have enabled them to be added in larger amounts of foods such as margarine.

HDL or LDL? HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, is often labelled "good" cholesterol because it reduces tbhe amount of LDL or "bad" cholesterol, in the arteries. The higher the HDL level, the lower the risk of heart disease. When too much LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol circulates in the blood. It can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances it can form a plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog the arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis, and can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Overweight or obese? Fat is deposited in our bodies when the kilojoules (energy) we consume is greater than the kilojoules we use up. Smsll imbalances over long periods of time can cause you to become overweight or obese. Obesity rates in Australia have more than doubled over the past 20 years. around seven million Australians are now overweight or obese, and it is estimated that, at the current rate of increase, about 75 per cent of the Australian population will be overweight or obese by 2020. Overweight and obesity are defined by the World Health Organisation using the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared. For example, a person who is 1.65m tall and weighs 64kg would have a BMI of 24. People with a BMI of 25-29 are classified as overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or greater are classified as obese. There are a number of BMI calculators on the internet if you want to work your BMI - or buy a Wii and use it daily for exercise and to keep a check on your weight :)

Essential fatty acids (in polyunsaturates): seeds, nuts, pulses, beans, unrefined vegetable oils, oily fish, fish liver oils.

Fats Function
Polyunstaurated fats are needed to help the body absorb trace elements and fat soluble vitamins A,D, E and K from food. they are involved in making adrenal and sex hormones, and maintaining a healthy population of bacteria in the gut, healthy skin and circulation.

Monounsaturated fats are good substitutes for saturates.

Saturated fats provide concentrated energy, as well as insulation and protection. Should be kept to a minimum as excessive amounts may lead to cardiovascular disease, obesity and many other problems.

Essential fatty acids are vital to the normal development of nervous and immune systems. With proteins, they form the major structural part of the cell wall in every cell in the body.