Key 6 - FAT Sources and Target Nutrients

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FAT SOURCES that are rich in OMEGA-3 PUFAs and MUFAs should be SPECIFICALLY TARGETED as should other foods that are high in VITAMINS, FIBRE and PHYTONUTRIENTS - as these foods can make a major contribution to your health.

Some of the foods you need to target in your diet is:

  • all vegetables (preferably fresh)
  • all legumes
  • all fruits (preferably fresh)
  • yoghurt, preferably low fat
  • all nuts and seeds, but in smallish portions, avocado and olives
  • anchovies, salmon, pilchards, sardines, trout and mackerel
  • intact whole grains
  • water

The above foods (note this is not a comprehensive list) will contribute to your health 99% of the time. That is why you need to target them.

It is important to know that all the cell membranes of your body consist of all the fat you eat and that the bad trans and saturated fat makes your cell membranes more rigid, predisposing you to lifestyle diseases, whereas the unsaturated fat cause your cell membranes to function better, reducing risk of lifestyle diseases.  The Mediterranean diet is 37-40% fat, but comes mainly from healthy MUFAs and omega-3 PUFAS with very little saturated fat.

Fat can be distinguished between bad (detrimental) saturated and trans fats and good (beneficial) mono-unsaturated (MUFAS) and poly-unsaturated fat (PUFAs), which include omega-3 and omega-6. There is an erroneous conception that omega-6 PUFAs are very bad for you, whereas the truth is that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is important. As most people do not eat any or very little omega-3 rich products like salmon, pilchards, mackerel, trout or other fatty fish, their consumption of omega-6 rich products are relatively too high. The minute they include a portion of fatty fish or an omega-3 supplement every day, this is corrected.

MUFA sources include all nuts, avocado, olives, olive oil and canola oil. MUFA are important to keep you harmful (LDL) cholesterol levels down while elevating the beneficial (HDL) cholesterol. There is comprehensive information about fats and its function in metabolism available in the updated SA Fat and Protein Guide (Prof. Nola Dippenaar and Liesbet Delport).

Of course there is also food to avoid. Food that will harm your health 99% of the time. These food are generally loaded with calories but have minimal nutritional value. It will not help your body to function better and rejuvenate itself, but it will actually hamper your metabolism and interfere negatively with the way your body functions. Again this is not a comprehensive list, but the most important and common ones are included:

1.    All kinds of confectionary as they are usually high in saturated and often also trans fats. The items for sale in bakeries and supermarkets always look delicious, but note that each bite you take is actually harming you. There are very few “healthy” confectionary items around. 
2.    Fat on meat is always bad for you. Fat on beef, lamb and mutton, pork and the skin of chicken and other poultry should always be removed, preferably before cooking. Unless you have been roaming the polar regions of the globe, there is no value for your body in these fats.
3.    Linked to this are processed meats like bully beef, polony and most sausages (including dried wors). They do contain some protein which is useful to the body, but generally the amounts of fat (mostly bad) included outweigh this benefit by far and overall you will be better off to never have it.
4.    Energy drinks for inactive people. Sugar-containing soft drinks/cordials should be mentioned in the same breath as they are all higher GI and wear out your pancreas. For the athlete or sports enthusiast, these drinks are very handy during and after training, but most often people use them to quench their thirst. To remain or become healthy this is a definite habit to get rid of.
5.    Take away meals are 99% of the time also loaded with the bad fats that clog your arteries and damage the cell walls of your whole body. They have very little to offer in terms of what value they can add to your health. Take away and restaurant meals are also usually very high in kJ, as they contain at least double the portion sizes of home cooked meals and often are very low in nutritional value.
6.    Potato and other types of crisps – too high in salt, bad fats, kilojoules and GI. Regular use will surely steer you towards health problems.

7.    Sweets and chocolates are also usually very high in kJ.

Experts say you avoid the bad stuff by pondering on the good stuff. In other words, don’t think about the fat and sugary snacks and say to yourself “I should not have that”. Rather think about good snacks like strawberries, fresh popcorn, dried fruit and nuts. Think of all the different kinds. Brazil nuts have a “smoky” flavour and peanuts are like a friend from school. Cashew nuts are just so exotic and then there are macadamias and pecans and the list goes on. That is how you can shift your focus and break your bad eating patterns.

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References:
Buettner D (2008): The Blue Zones: lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest. The National Geographic Society.
Craig, WJ (1997): Phytochemicals:guardians of our health. J Am Dietetic Assoc, 97 (10 Suppl 2): S199 - S204.
Haag M and Dippenaar NG (2005): Dietary fats, fatty acids and insulin resistance: short review of a multifaceted connection. Med Sci Monit, 11(12): RA359 - 367. http://www.gifoundation.com/attachments/article/83/DietaryFats,FattyAcidsandIR-Haag,Dippenaar.pdf
Margioris AN (2009): Fatty acids and postprandial inflammation, Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 12: 129 -137.
Recommendations of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Insitute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical activity and the Prevention of Cancer. 2007
Rossouw JE (2015): The diet-heart hypothesis, obesity and diabetes. S Afr J Clin Nutr, 28(1):38-43.