The difference between good and bad fat |

The difference between good and bad fat

During the 1990s, the low-fat craze changed the way Americans ate, and yet they got fatter than ever. By 2001, one-third of the American population was overweight.

I remember back when low-fat diets were the choice of those of us seeking to lose weight. We feared all fats and loaded up on carbohydrates, thinking we were doing something great for our bodies. How come we didn’t lose the weight no matter how desperately we tried?

One main reason is that fat consumption helps you to feel full longer. The human body uses fatty acids to do everything from building cell membranes to performing key functions in brain, eyes, lungs, and my most recent quest in health, hormonal balance.

If you hormones are out of balance, it is almost impossible to drop excess pounds. In fact you could rapidly gain unwanted pounds.

Just remember that fat has about twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins. A gram of fat has nine calories, while a gram of carbohydrate or protein has four calories. In other words, you could eat twice as much carbohydrates or proteins as fat for the same amount of calories.

The dietary reference intake for fat in adults is 20 percent to 35 percent of total daily calories from fat. That’s about 44 to 77 grams of fat a day if you eat 2,000 calories a day.

Eating the right kinds of fats will have a significant impact on the way you look and feel. We’ve all heard about the benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids. Benefits include reduced pain and inflammation, better brain function and cardiovascular health. Recent research indicates the omega-3 oil in walnuts helps reduce the incidence of breast cancer.

Monounsaturated fat: Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.

Polyunsaturated fat: Vegetable oils (such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils), nuts and seeds.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts.

Saturated fat: Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter), and coconut, palm and other tropical oils.

Trans fat: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (such as doughnuts and French fries), shortening and margarine.

Dietary cholesterol: Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter).

To make it easy on you to start eating the correct fats, the following is a recipe I enjoy. With fresh, wild salmon in season, go fire-up the grill.

11⁄2 pounds salmon fillets

Lemon pepper to taste

Garlic powder to taste

Salt to taste

1⁄3 cup soy sauce

1⁄3 cup brown sugar

1⁄3 cup water

1⁄4 cup olive oil

Season salmon fillets with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil until sugar is dissolved.

Place fish in a large, resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grill grate. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and discard marinade.

Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Rhonda Beckham is owner of Help Me Rhonda Personal Fitness Training. She is a nationally certified personal trainer operating out of Sierra Athletic Club and a Pilates instructor at Emerald Bay Physical Therapy. She can be reached at (530) 208-6369 or at her Web site, or by email,

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