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Choose a diet low in fat
Why limit total fat consumption?Fat has many important jobs in our body's normal functioning, including energy supply, insulation, support and cushioning of organs, and aiding in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Although fat is essential for our body's function, it is important to limit the amount we consume. Fat contains more calories than protein and carbohydrates per gram. Thus, diets high in fat are also higher in calories. Calorie consumption in excess of our daily expenditure leads to weight gain, and over a period of time, can lead to obesity. Obesity is linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer.
What is saturated fat & why should I limit my intake of these?
Saturated fats are those that are normally solid at room temperature, and are generally found naturally in animal products. We tend to consume saturated fats when we eat red meat (hamburgers, steak, tri-tip), fatty poultry meats/skin, whole-fat milk and cheese products, and processed meats such as hot dogs and lunch meats. Palm and coconut oils also contain saturated fats.
Saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, especially "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels. They also increase the risk of heart disease, and may increase the risk of colon and prostate cancers.
What are trans-fats & why should I limit my intake of these?
The process of hydrogenation is used to make fats more stable and increase their shelf-life. This process also changes the shape of some unsatruated fatty acids into trans fatty acids.This means that they have an atypical shape which affects their behavior in the body. This process of hydrogenation is also used to transform liquid oils into shortening or margarine. Many food products which are baked or fried are prepared with hydrogenated oils, meaning they can be high in saturated and trans-fats.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol, like fat, is also necessary for our body to function properly. However, our body makes all the cholesterol it needs on its own, so we do not need to consume cholesterol to be healthy. In fact, it is important to monitor your blood cholesterol levels, and know which foods can lead to high cholesterol.
You may have heard of "bad" and "good" cholesterol. The scientific term for these are Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL), respectively. Your total blood cholesterol level represents these two types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL combined. Because HDLs are "good" and LDLs are "bad", it is better to have your total cholesterol made up of HDL rather than LDL. Certain fats serve to raise and lower these levels of LDL and HDL in your blood.
Those fats which increase your levels of LDL ("bad" cholesterol) are saturated and trans fats. Limit your consumption of these, and you'll work toward a healthier cholesterol level.
Unsaturated fats, however, lower LDL. Monounsaturated fats (like those found in canola & olive oil), raise HDL. Thus, consuming unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats will increase your good cholesterol and decrease the bad, causing your overall cholesterol to be in a healthier range where you'll work toward prevention of heart disease and cancer.