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It seems like nutritionists can’t make up their minds about fat. One day it’s evil, the next day, certain fats are promoted as healthy.
Enough with the confusion and contradictions! Our registered dietitian at a2 Milk® sat down with us to walk us through the types of fat, the common myths circulating about fat, and the important truths everyone should know.
There are three main types of fat:
Trans fats are the fats found in hydrogenated vegetable oils. The scientific and research community generally agrees that trans fats are unhealthy and their intakes should be strictly limited. Trans fats may increase “bad” cholesterol, and have an impact on your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Products are legally required to disclose the amount of trans fat, so read your nutrition label thoroughly. To limit trans fat, avoid the following foods:
Saturated fats are typically found in animal products and coconut oil. While more naturally-occurring than trans fats, experts recommend that saturated fats should still be limited to less than 10 percent of calories per day, or about 200 calories worth (based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet). For reference, one slice of cheddar cheese contains 113 calories from saturated fat.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in plants, vegetable oils, avocados, and nuts. These fats contain omega-3 and omega-6 fats, considered to be healthy in moderation. There is no dietary recommendation for mono or poly-unsaturated fats.
As with many nutrients, most fat isn’t inherently “bad” or “good.” In fact, all humans need fat in their diet to function properly. The health dangers or benefits of this macronutrient are in the quantity being eaten.
Most experts agree that men and women should avoid trans fats, and replace saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fats.
While dairy fat is saturated fat and should be limited, new research supports it shouldn’t be eliminated. In fact, dairy fat studies have shown that people who eat dairy foods may have a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
One serving of whole milk contains zero trans fat and about 30 percent of the daily recommendation of saturated fat. Because milk also contains nine essential nutrients, including protein, it is considered a nutrient dense food choice. Importantly, the fat in whole milk provides a feeling of fullness. You shouldn’t drink a gallon a day, but if you avoid milk because you don’t like reduced and low-fat versions, adding a glass of whole milk to your daily routine may have some health benefits.
No single nutrient or food contributes to weight gain. Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than your body burns. You could get 100 percent of your calories from fat and still maintain or lose weight.
When it comes to losing weight, your best odds are to eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains, and some fat to help keep you full and satisfied. Not to mention, fat makes other foods taste good!
Consuming fat is essential to health, but it’s important to understand which fats to include in your diet and how much. Avoid trans fats at all costs and replace saturated fat with healthier, plant-based sources of fat like nuts, olive oil, and avocados. When choosing foods that contain saturated fat, make sure they come with a powerhouse of nutrients, like whole milk and full-fat dairy do.
If you are sensitive to the dairy foods but still want to get the benefits of dairy in your diet, try a2 Milk®. a2 Milk® is made with only the A2 protein, so it’s easier on digestion and may help some avoid discomfort.