Fit Bits: The skinny on fat

1/26/2007 | By: Staff Report  |

Before I get into the fat topic, I just want to take a moment to offer some suggestions on working out when it is cold outside. Last winter I wrote a complete article on cold weather workouts for the Senior Connection, but I would like to briefly discuss a few points.

First I would like to dispel the myth that cold air will freeze your lungs. Scientifically as the cold air you breathe passes through your nose and mouth, it is heated to about 80 degrees by the time it reaches the lungs.

So it is safe to run or power walk on cold mornings. An alternative is to walk or run on a treadmill or swim indoors. It is nice to take a walk in the mall, if you don't mind a few people gawking as you power walk past them. These are just a few ideas to cope with these frigid mornings.

Now, on to the topic of fat. I will attempt to clarify the difference between good fat and bad fat because our bodies need fat for energy. What we need to be aware of is which types of fat we put on our plates.

Monounsaturated fats are considered one of the good fats, helping keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels down. You will find this type of fat in such foods as almonds, avocados, olive and canola oil.

Polyunsaturated fat is another good fat that contains omega 6 and omega 3, which the body does not produce and can only be supplemented through diet. Examples of polyunsaturated fats would be soybean oil, flaxseed, hempseeds and walnuts.

Saturated fat, which is associated primarily with animal sources such as dairy products and meat, is considered bad fat. However there are exceptions to most rules: Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are considered good saturated fats. The case studies that have found a diet high in saturated fat leading to heart disease have not made distinctions between these different forms of saturated fats.

Also something to take into consideration is the high consumption rate of the red meat-eaters. Red meat-eaters typically eat red meat several times per week, drastically altering the results of these studies. So the word of the day when it comes to red meat is moderation.

The reason is that palmitic acid is found in meat and dairy products and is a bad saturated fat, of which we should all be very leery.

Lauric acid, found in chocolate and coconut oil is good oil, so don't be afraid to have a piece of dark chocolate or cook with coconut oil. This type of saturated fat seems to have a neutral effect on cholesterol levels in the blood. When introducing red meat and dairy products into your diet, use low fat as a choice.

Trans fat or trans fatty acids as they are sometimes referred to, are the real bad boys. Trans fatty acids are manufactured artificially to enhance flavor but are largely used to transform a liquid into a solid form. This process is accomplished by adding hydrogen atoms to vegetable oil and the resulting trans fatty acids can be found in prepared foods such as cookies, baked goods, vegetable shortening and some margarines. Trans fatty acids have been linked to everything from poor eyesight and heart disease to cancer.

A recent Johns Hopkins University health report states that there is no safe level of consumption for trans fatty acids. I think the choices are clear.

I hope this month's column was helpful in solving some of the mysteries surrounding the good fat/bad fat issues. Until next time, this is your e-fitness coach Bill Oberding reminding you to exercise, eat a balanced diet, maintain a positive attitude and be fit for life.


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