True or False: How Well Do You Know Your Dietary Fat?

By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]

Cutting out fat is essential for weigh loss.
False. Fats are an essential dietary nutrient. Fats (oils, meat and dairy fats) are calorie dense; therefore, if you are watching your waist line you probably have to reduce the amount of fat you are eating or cooking with. However, healthy fats, namely monounsaturated (olive oil, canola oil) and polyunsaturated fats (soy bean or sesame oil), in contrast to unhealthy [trans fat] and less healthy [saturated] fat, should always be part of your daily eating plan; cutting these out altogether will likely leave you nutrient deficient and craving fat- or sugar-laden foods.

Trans fats are artificial and processed.
True. Naturally occurring trans fats can be found in trace amounts in dairy and meat products, but most trans fats are processed from liquid oils. Trans fats have no nutritional value and are the most unhealthy fats found in our diet. In contrast to healthy fats, trans fats raise cholesterol levels and are associated with the development of heart disease. Foods containing partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable fats are likely to contain trans fats.

Margarine is better than butter.
Sometimes true; sometimes not. Margarine generally has much less total fat as well as less saturated fat. Because most people eat too much saturated fat, (found in dairy and meat products) margarine may be a healthier option. However, margarine is processed and often contains trans fats. If you eat very little meat and cheese, and if your cholesterol levels are relatively low, a little butter is probably okay. For the rest of us, I would recommend using organic margarine made from monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and free of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats.

Starchy foods do not contain fat
False. Processed starchy foods like packaged cakes, cookies, cereal bars, and crackers can be high in fat from added oils, butter, or margarine. We often think of these foods are unhealthy because of their sugar content; however, their fat content can also be an issue especially for those of us with high cholesterol levels. If you make your own baked goods, use polyunsaturated margarine, monounsaturated vegetable oil, or fruit purée (apple or banana), to control the fat content of your food.

Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
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