Dietary Fat – What Do Youth Athletes Need
Dietary fat can be both good or bad. High fat diets have been directly related to an increase in some types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Statistics Canada released their most recent stats and the outlook for children is not good. We are seeing an ever increasing popularity of fast food and convenience diets in the form of ready made meals. The number of children being overweight or obese is increasing at a faster rate than for adults. The consumption of fats is at least partially to blame.
To understand food labels, you need to know what each of the dietary fat terms mean. These are the most common terms used:
Hydrogenated: adding hydrogen to a fat molecule making it more saturated and more stable to increase its shelf-life.
Fat-free: less than 0.5 g per serving
Low-fat: 3 g or less per serving
Reduced fat: 25% or less than the original product
Saturated fat-free: less than 0.5 g of saturated or trans fat
Low saturated fat: 1 g or less per serving
Cholesterol free: less than 2 mg of cholesterol and 2 g of saturated fat per serving
Low cholesterol: less than 20 mg of cholesterol per serving
The Role of Dietary Fat
You see a lot of advertising geared towards reducing fat in your diet in order to be healthy. That is not completely true. Dietary fat does play a number of important roles in food production and in the body.
- foods taste better, more flavor and aroma
- creamy texture to foods like ice cream and chocolate
- keeps food moist when cooking like steak
- dietary fat helps you feel full by slowing the digestive process so you eat less
- aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K which are fat soluble
- contains 9 calories per gram as compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates.
Types of Dietary Fat
- Saturated fat – a molecule made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen with as much hydrogen as it can contain
- Unsaturated fats – is a saturated fat with some of the hydrogen removed. it can be converted to a saturated fat by reacting the molecule with more hydrogen, a process called hydrogenation. Oil are converted to a more stable solid in this process.
- Trans-fatty acid – these are a bi-product of hydrogenation. These are not good fats. They are known to increase the level of cholesterol in the body.
- Cholesterol – used for nerve cell function and production of vitamin D and sex hormones.
Food Intake for Dietary Fat
As a general rule, only 30% of your calorie intake per day should be from total fat and less than 10% from saturated fat. Cholesterol intake should be limited to 300 mg per day.
Eat a balanced diet that includes the good fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as omega 3 fatty acids.
Food choices that have good fats include:
- Vegetable oil, olive oil, avocados and sunflower seeds
- Peanut oil, sunflower oil, chicken and nuts
- Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring
Eat well, exercise daily and obesity will not be in your future. the trend does need to be reversed so make the effort now to change your eating habits so you don’t end up fighting heart disease and diabetes before the age of 20. Life never intended children to die before their parents.
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