Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do You Know Your Fat Facts: How the different foods we eat can effect our labs

If you have ever had your cholesterol tested, we test your total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides (fat). Combined, these test are known as a "Lipid Panel".  

Many things that we eat effect our lipid panels...


*It is important to note that benefits are seen in people who replace "bad" fats in their diet with "good" fats. If you only add "good" fats to your current diet, you are just eating a diet higher in fat. * 

Saturated Fat (sat fat) or BAD fat: increases our total cholesterol and it increases our LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Saturated fats are more stable compounds. Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature.
    • i.e. Butter, shortening, and lard which will remain in stick form outside of the fridge
 1% increase in saturated fats cause about a 3% increase in blood cholesterol

Unsaturated fats or GOOD fats:
  • Are liquid at room temperature

  • MONOunsaturated fat or MUFA's: decreases our total cholesterol, decreases our LDL cholesterol, and may increase our HDL (good) cholesterol  
    • Examples: Canola, olive, peanut, and soy bean oils

  • POLYunsaturated fat or PUFA's: decreases our total cholesterol, decreases our LDL cholesterol, and decreases our HDL cholesterol
    • There are 2 main types of PUFA's that we hear about and they are omega 6's and omega 3's. Most Americans have no problem getting omega 6's.

    • OMEGA 3's: decreases triglycerides and decreases total cholesterol
      • Fatty fish such as salmon contain the most omega 3's.
      • Plant sources of omega 3's, like flax seeds, are lower in omega 3's than animal sources.
        • When eating flax seeds, make sure they are ground. If we eat whole flax seeds they have a laxative effect and we do not get the benefits of the omega 3's.

Eliminating saturated fat in the diet is 2 times as effective as adding (not replacing sat fat with) PUFA's

TRANSunsaturated fat or SUPER BAD fat: Increases total cholesterol, increases LDL cholesterol, and may decrease HDL cholesterol
  • I know what you are thinking, "I thought unsaturated fats where the good fats". The above ones are.
  • Trans fat is what happens during a process called hydrogenation, which is used to make margarines from plant oils.
  • During hydrogenation, some of the fats are only partially hydrogenated, resultsing in trans fats.
Trans fast are the most dangerous fats because since they are an UNsaturated fat, our bodies put them into places where "good" unsaturated fats usually go.
  • Trans fats are very stable compounds, like saturated fats, resulting in the hardening of areas of our bodies, like organs, which are used to dealing with the "good" liquid fats.
  • At least when we eat saturated fats, our bodies know they are bad and put them in less harmful places.

 They have a greater effect on our cholesteral than saturated fats.

How to avoid trans fats:
  • Labels are not required to acknowledge if a product has trans fat if there is less than 0.5g per serving. If you eat more than one serving, you will be taking in more trans fat.
  • "Partially Hydrogenated" is the key word to look for on the ingredients list of margarines, spreads, and butter stuff.
    • By avoiding foods with "partially hydrogenated" oils, you are avoiding trans fats, even if the nutrition facts panel does not say there is any.

Cholesterol is NOT a fat! It is found in many foods that contain fats and has a bad reputation and is therefore often times associated with fat, dont be fooled!
Dietary Cholesterol (cholesterol that you eat) increases total cholesterol and increases LDLcholesterol but less than sat fats.


Soluble Fiber: decreases total cholesterol and decreases LDL cholesterol
  • sources: oats-oatbran, legumes, fruits and vegetables with pectins and gums
Note that insoluble fiber has no lipid lowering effect. This is the fiber associated with colon health and digestive system regularity.
  • sources: wheat bran, whole wheat, F&V cellulose

  • Greater effect on blood lipids if you already have high triglycerides. 
  • Moderate intake of certain alcoholic beverages, like red wine, may decrease risk for heart disease in those with normal triglycerides

Stanols, Sterols: Decreases total cholesterol 9-20%
  • work best if eaten along with fat. Decrease 
  • Sources: margarines and salad dressings
  • decreases’s total chol 9-20% w/o SE
  • For more information see my earlier blog on cholesterol

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