The high bacteria load in raw or cooked animal foods and fermented foods may trigger an endotoxemic surge of inflammation that may be exacerbated by the presence of saturated animal fat.
A single meal of meats, eggs, and dairy can cause a spike of inflammation within hours that can stiffen one’s arteries. Originally this was thought to be the result of saturated animal fat causing our gut lining to leak bacterial toxins into our blood stream leading to endotoxemia.
The largest prospective nutrition study ever published suggests animal fat may play a role in the development of pancreatic cancer.
Growing your own broccoli sprouts is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve one’s diet.
by: Rachael Anderson
Tackling Trans Fat
Trans fat is a type of fat found in foods that increases our risk for heart disease. Many Canadians eat too much trans fat. Here’s what you need to know about what trans fat is and where to find it.
What is trans fat?
Trans fat is a fat found in foods. Trans fat is made when a liquid vegetable oil is changed into a solid fat. Trans fat is often added to processed foods because it can improve taste and texture and helps the food stay fresh longer.
Why is trans fat bad for your health?
Trans fat increases your risk of heart disease. This is because:
- Trans fat raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol AND
- Trans fat lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol
How much trans fat can I eat?
Trans fat is not needed for a healthy diet. You should aim to eat as little trans fat as possible.
What foods have trans fat?
These foods often have trans fat. You will need to read the Nutrition Facts table to know for sure:
- Deep fried foods (spring rolls, chicken nuggets, frozen hash browns, French fries)
- Ready to eat frozen foods (quiche, burritos, pizza, pizza pockets, French fries, egg rolls, veggie and beef patties)
- Hard (stick) margarine and shortening
- Commercially baked goods (donuts, Danishes, cakes, pies)
- Convenience foods (icing, puff pastry, taco shells, pie crusts, cake mixes)
- Toaster pastries (waffles, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches)
- Oriental noodles
- Snack puddings
- Liquid coffee whiteners
- Packaged salty snacks (microwave popcorn, chips, crackers)
- Packaged sweet snacks (cookies, granola bars)
Trans fat can also be found naturally in some foods. Meat, milk, and butter naturally contain small amounts of trans fat. The trans fat found naturally in foods is different than manufactured trans fat and does not increase your risk of heart disease.
What to look for on the label
Food manufacturers must list how much trans fat is in their foods on the Nutrition Facts table. Because of this, many food manufacturers have changed their recipes. A large number of packaged foods are now reduced in trans fat or are trans fat free.
- Look at the number of grams of trans fat in the Nutrition Facts table. Choose products with the lowest amount.
- Look at the %DV beside saturated fat on the Nutrition Facts table. Choose products with 10% DV or lower for saturated fat (this number is actually for the total of saturated and trans fat). The lower the number the better. Foods with a 5% DV or lower are considered low in fat. Watch this video to learn how to use the %DV on the Nutrition Facts table.
- Check the ingredient list: avoid eating foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil and shortening.
- Look for words such as “free of trans fatty acids”, “reduced in trans fatty acids” and “lower in trans fatty acids”.
For information on how to read the Nutrition Facts table, watch these videos.
Reducing the amount of trans fat you eat
It is difficult to completely stop eating trans fat. The goal is to eat as little trans fat as possible. Remember that just because a food is trans fat free does not mean it is fat free. Many food companies have replaced the trans fat in foods with other types of fat – especially saturated fat. Too much saturated fat can also increase your heart disease risk.
- Continue to watch your fat intake and choose lower fat foods at home and when eating out.
- Eat more vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed whole grains: these foods contain no trans fat.
- Avoid deep fried foods. Choose grilled, steamed, broiled or baked instead.
- Cook at home whenever you can. Bake your own cakes, muffins and pancakes instead of relying on pre-packaged mixes.
- Bake and cook with a soft, non-hydrogenated margarine instead of hard (stick) margarine, butter or shortening.
- Go online before you go to the restaurant to check the fat and trans fat content of foods.
- Read nutrition labels on packaged foods to make lower saturated and trans fat choices.
- Choose leaner meat and lower fat milk to cut down on the overall amount of fat that you eat. Lean meats include pork cutlets, extra lean ground beef and skinless chicken and turkey breasts. Choose dairy products like milk, yogurt and cottage cheese with 2% MF (milk fat) or less.
- Use healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats most often. These include olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oils and non-hydrogenated (soft) margarine. Avoid coconut and palm oil.
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Eating nuts tied to lower risk of dying from cancer, heart disease (and a slimmer waist), Harvard study finds
DALLAS — Help yourself to some nuts this holiday season: Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease — in fact, were less likely to die of any cause — during a 30-year Harvard study.
Have you taken your omega-7s today?
If you follow nutrition information even half-heartedly, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of omega-3 fatty acids, the fats derived primarily from fish that are thought to be good for our hearts and brains, and that can reduce inflammation throughout the body. Less well-known, but still relevant are the omega-9 fatty acids, which can be derived from the likes of olive oil. Unlike omega-3s and omega-6s, however, omega-9 fatty acids can be manufactured in our body, and are therefore not actually essential to a healthy diet. So what are omega-7s, and why do they matter? We are only beginning to understand them, but what we know so far is both intriguing and promising.
Nuts have long been called heart-healthy, and the study is the largest ever done on whether eating them affects mortality.
Researchers tracked 119,000 men and women and found that those who ate nuts roughly every day were 20% less likely to die during the study period than those who never ate nuts. Eating nuts less often lowered the death risk too, in direct proportion to consumption.
The risk of dying of heart disease dropped 29% and the risk of dying of cancer fell 11% among those who had nuts seven or more times a week compared with people who never ate them.
The benefits were seen from peanuts as well as from pistachios, almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts. The researchers did not look at how the nuts were prepared — oiled or salted, raw or roasted.
A bonus: Nut eaters stayed slimmer.
“There’s a general perception that if you eat more nuts you’re going to get fat. Our results show the opposite,” said Dr. Ying Bao of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
She led the study, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation sponsored the study, but the nut group had no role in designing it or reporting the results.
Researchers don’t know why nuts may boost health. It could be that their unsaturated fatty acids, minerals and other nutrients lower cholesterol and inflammation and reduce other problems, as earlier studies seemed to show.
‘Sometimes when you eat nuts you eat less of something else like potato chips’
Observational studies like this one can’t prove cause and effect, only suggest a connection. Research on diets is especially tough, because it can be difficult to single out the effects of any one food.
People who eat more nuts may eat them on salads, for example, and some of the benefit may come from the leafy greens, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a University of Colorado cardiologist and former president of the American Heart Association.
Dr. Ralph Sacco, a University of Miami neurologist who also is a former heart association president, agreed.
“Sometimes when you eat nuts you eat less of something else like potato chips,” so the benefit may come from avoiding an unhealthy food, Sacco said.
The Harvard group has long been known for solid science on diets. Its findings build on a major study earlier this year — a rigorous experiment that found a Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with nuts cuts the chance of heart-related problems, especially strokes, in older people at high risk of them.
Many previous studies tie nut consumption to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and other maladies.
In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said a fistful of nuts a day as part of a low-fat diet may reduce the risk of heart disease. The heart association recommends four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts a week and warns against eating too many, since they are dense in calories.
The new research combines two studies that started in the 1980s on 76,464 female nurses and 42,498 male health professionals. They filled out surveys on food and lifestyle habits every two to four years, including how often they ate a serving (1 ounce) of nuts.
Study participants who often ate nuts were healthier — they weighed less, exercised more and were less likely to smoke, among other things. After taking these and other things into account, researchers still saw a strong benefit from nuts.
We did so many analyses, very sophisticated ones, to eliminate other possible explanations
Compared with people who never ate nuts, those who had them less than once a week reduced their risk of death 7%; once a week, 11%; two to four times a week, 13%; and seven or more times a week, 20%.
“I’m very confident” the observations reflect a true benefit, Bao said. “We did so many analyses, very sophisticated ones,” to eliminate other possible explanations.
For example, they did separate analyses on smokers and non-smokers, heavy and light exercisers, and people with and without diabetes, and saw a consistent benefit from nuts.
‘We’re seeing benefits of nut consumption on cardiovascular disease as well as body weight and diabetes’
At a heart association conference in Dallas this week, Penny Kris-Etheron, a Pennsylvania State University nutrition scientist, reviewed previous studies on this topic.
“We’re seeing benefits of nut consumption on cardiovascular disease as well as body weight and diabetes,” said Kris-Etherton, who has consulted for nut makers and also served on many scientific panels on dietary guidelines.
“We don’t know exactly what it is” about nuts that boosts health or which ones are best, she said. “I tell people to eat mixed nuts.”
It’s Your Health
Help on accessing alternative formats, such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (PPT) files, can be obtained in the alternate format help section.
On this page:
- The issue
- What is fat?
- The good: unsaturated fats
- The bad: saturated fats
- The ugly: trans fats
- Health tips
- How much fat do I need?
- Understanding the % Daily Value
- The Government of Canada’s role
- For more information
The type and amount of fat you eat are important. You need some fat in your diet, but too much can be bad for your health. Also, some types of fat (saturated and trans fats) may increase your risk of developing heart disease and should be limited.
What is fat?
Fat is an important nutrient for your health. It plays many different roles in your body:
- It gives you energy (also called calories).
- It helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.
- It helps your body grow and develop.
There are different kinds of fat in foods:
- the good: unsaturated (like monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat)
- the bad: saturated
- the ugly: trans
While you do need some fat in your diet, it is important not to eat too much and to choose the right type.
The good: unsaturated fats
Unsaturated fat is a type of fat found in the foods you eat. Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fat also provides omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Choose foods with unsaturated fat as part of a balanced diet using Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Even though it is a “good fat,” having too much unsaturated fat may lead to having too many calories. This may cause weight gain and increase your risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.
There are two main types of unsaturated fats:
- monounsaturated fat, which can be found in:
- nuts and seeds (like cashews, pecans, almonds and peanuts)
- vegetable oils (like canola, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame and sunflower)
- polyunsaturated fat, which can be found in:
- fatty fish (like herring, mackerel, salmon, trout and smelt)
- fish oils
- nuts and seeds (like cashews, pecans, almonds and peanuts)
- vegetable oils (like canola, corn, flaxseed, soybean and sunflower)
The bad: saturated fats
Saturated fat is a type of fat found in food. It has been shown to raiseLDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Having high LDL-cholesterol levels increases your risk for heart disease.
Saturated fat is found in many foods:
- animal foods (like beef, chicken, lamb, pork and veal)
- coconut, palm and palm kernel oils
- dairy products (like butter, cheese and whole milk)
Choosing lower-fat meat and dairy products can help reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet.
Use vegetable oil or soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats instead of butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening.
The ugly: trans fats
Trans fat is made from a chemical process known as “partial hydrogenation.” This is when liquid oil is made into a solid fat.
Like saturated fat, trans fat has been shown to raise LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, which increases your risk for heart disease. Unlike saturated fat, trans fat also lowers HDL or “good” cholesterol. A low level of HDL-cholesterol is also a risk factor for heart disease.
Until recently, most of the trans fat found in a typical Canadian diet came from:
- margarines (especially hard margarines)
- commercially fried foods
- bakery products made with shortening, margarine or oils containing partially hydrogenated oils and fats (including cakes, cookies, crackers, croissants, doughnuts, fried and breaded foods, muffins, pastries and other snack foods)
If a product has less than 0.2 grams of trans fat AND less than 0.5 g of saturated fat, the food manufacturer can say that the product is trans-fat-free. Learn more about nutrition claims.
Our food supply is rapidly changing and the trans fat content of many of these products has now been reduced. But it is still important to look at the Nutrition Facts table to make sure the food product you are buying has only a little or no trans fat.
- Eat a small amount of unsaturated fats each day. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. Examples of foods with unsaturated fats include: nuts and seeds, fatty fish (like mackerel and salmon), and vegetable oils.
- Use the % Daily Value (% DV) in the Nutrition Facts table on food product labels to find out how much fat there is in the food you buy.
At the grocery store
- Always look at the Nutrition Facts table to choose and compare foods.
- Choose leaner cuts of meat, skinless chicken and turkey. Or remove the skin before cooking.
- Buy fish every week, like herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout.
- Choose lower-fat dairy products.
- Choose soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fat.
- Buy fewer pre-packaged foods and “ready-to-eat” meals.
- Buy vegetables, fruit and whole grain products with no added fat.
- Have meat alternatives like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and tofu.
- Use vegetable oils like canola, olive and soybean.
- Use small amounts of vegetable oils for stir-frying or sautéing. A teaspoon is usually enough.
- Heat oil before frying to prevent the food from soaking up the oil.
- Fill a spray bottle with vegetable oil to spray your pans instead of greasing.
- Substitute soft margarine for hard margarine, butter or lard in baking.
- Make your own salad dressing with canola or olive oil. Add balsamic, rice wine or other vinegars. Flavour with lemon juice, dry or Dijon mustard, garlic and herbs.
- Check the nutrition information of menu items before you order, and choose foods with less fat. This information may be on the restaurant’s website, on a poster, or in a pamphlet at the restaurant.
- Ask for gravy, sauces and salad dressings “on the side.” Use only small amounts.
- Order smaller portions or share with someone.
How much fat do I need?
The amount of fat you need each day depends on your age.
Recommended amount of fat (as a percentage of total daily calories)
The best way to achieve these recommendations is by followingCanada’s Food Guide.
Understanding the % Daily Value
The Daily Value for the amount of fat used in nutrition labelling is 65 g (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).
For example, if a product’s Nutrition Facts table shows 8 g of fat, the % Daily Value for fat is 12%.
(8 g ÷ 65 g) × 100 = 12%.
So if you eat this product, you will take in 12% of the recommended daily total of fat.
15% DV or more is a lot.