Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Low fat: friend or foe?

Sponsored Series by Nuffnang Australia


HeartActive is a delicious, 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that consuming plant sterols everyday in milk can reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in three weeks.  HeartActive is currently available in a 1L carton with an extended shelf life (45 days from production) compared to regular white milks with a shelf life of 14 days.


Have you ever noticed how dietary advice seems to go in and out of fashion? For instance: over recent times, there's been something of a backlash against low fat nutrition plans after years of general consensus that low fat was the way to go. Fat is bad. No, fat is good. This kind of fat is bad, but that kind is good. Wait a minute...that kind is now considered bad, but this kind is A-OK. What was out last week is in this week. Aargh!

In many of the health and fitness groups amongst which I socialise, low-fat is completely out of favour. One of the arguments against is that many low fat packaged foods aren't exactly good for us. Yes, they may contain little or no fat, but the problem is that to make them taste good, other things often have to be added. I'm not going to call out any specific products, but if you read the labels on many of the fat-free items on the supermarket shelves, there's a lot of sugar or artificial additives in there. Those are really not my favourite things, for obvious reasons.

Another argument against going low-fat is that our bodies need dietary fat. Among other things, hormone production and repair/creation of new tissue relies on fat. As well, some vitamins are fat-soluble. If you ate zero fat for any length of time, there's no doubt you'd be risking some potentially serious health problems.

Nobody disputes the value of unsaturated fat. Or that we ought to avoid trans-fats. I know that some trans-fats occur naturally in animal products, but it's the artificially created fats in manufactured biscuits and other baked goods that create concern. Recently there's been quite a bit of argument about saturated fat and whether it's good or bad for you. But the advice from health authorities is still to eat lean meats and lower fat dairy products and to get most of our necessary fats from known healthy sources.

It can be really confusing to try to sift through the mass of conflicting information, but for what it's worth, here's my view. I'm not afraid of fat and I include some in my meals every day. But there are two main reasons why watching the amount of dietary fat you're getting is still generally a good idea:

1) If you're aiming to restrict calories for weight loss or even weight maintenance, keeping overall fat intake moderately low is one of the strategies that will help. Fat is calorie-dense, regardless of the type. It contains almost double the calories per gram of either protein or carbohydrate.

2) If you have high cholesterol, cardio-vascular disease (or more than one risk factors for cardiovascular disease), minimising saturated fat is a wise move too. Regardless of the touted benefits of this week's fad healthy product, if it's high in saturated fat, you should probably minimise your consumption of it.

Add a good dose of Omega-3s and a moderate amount of Omega-6s to your meals, cut back the saturated fat and try to avoid trans-fats. How do you do that?  Eat oily fish, olive oil and some nuts and seeds. Choose lean sources of meat and poultry. Cut way back on packaged biscuits, bars and cakes and switch to low-fat milk and other dairy products.




I may be a bit liberal with the olive oil, walnuts and other plant sources of dietary fat, and I never worry about the fat in a lovely piece of salmon or mackerel, but I do stick to low fat milk and yoghurt. It helps me to keep my overall calorie consumption within my requirements (nobody wants a fat butt, do they?), and I never have the slightest twinge of guilt about grabbing a cafe latte, pouring milk on my porridge or creating a smoothie or shake for a quick and easy snack.

Do you consciously follow a low-fat regime? If so, what are your motives?


This article represents my opinion only, and is not intended as medical advice. If you have high cholesterol or any other health condition, or if you require nutritional advice, you should consult a medical professional and/or an accredited practising dietitian.


HeartActive is a delicious, 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that consuming plant sterols everyday in milk can reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in three weeks. HeartActive is currently available in a 1L carton with an extended shelf life (45 days from production) compared to regular white milks with a shelf life of 14 days.



Photobucket

8 comments:

Debstar said...

I agree with you 100% Kerryn. My approach to fats in food seems to be about the same as yours.
I'm going to get some HeartActive for my mum who has struggled with high cholesterol for years.

Kek said...

I really like it, Deb - it has a lovely creamy texture, not like most low fat milks at all. And the plant sterol research is really solid. :)

Magda said...

Kek as you know I'm a big fan of good fats. For me they mean nice skin (I get quite a few compliments still), healthy hair and my brain can use all the help it can get to ward off Alzheimers. I'm not a big milk drinker (other than my obligatory daily skim or soy cappuccino) but I still choose low fat dairy over no fat or full fat. For me its more a taste thing as I'm not a fan of the sludgy mouth feel of full fat dairy (other than ice cream and then the richer and creamier the better).

I like your balanced approach and am pretty much on the same bandwagon :-)

M

Pip said...

I feel very similar to you Kek! :-) However I did try to assert '120g max' when my mate wanted to hand/home smoke a 420g fillet of salmon with a lil bit of honey to share between us'....thinking 'half each', - he is into weight training. It was delicious and we did end up having about half each with a salad. However, I didn't get up till 10am Sun, trained hard, skipped early morning meal so hope it balanced itself out somewhat.

Kek said...

Yeah,my skin goes all to crap if I go too low on fat, Magda. Love my fish oil! :)

Kek said...

Pip, don't worry! Is salmon; Is good! :D

Debbish said...

I 'try' and do the low fat thing - or at least I take the low fat option if it exists. I'm cponscious that sometimes you trade fat for sugar etc. I sometimes do the low sugar thing to find there's more fat. Grrrr.....

But, with stuff like milk etc it's a no brainer. Easy to make the switch!

Sara said...

Me too. Just a few egg yolks, omega 3 and a bit of coconut oil makes a big difference to my satiety and skin.

Post a Comment

Join the conversation...leave a comment.