The USDA recommends that we treat our daily food intake like a budget. Often it is considered that calories from fats, oils and sweets can give energy to active people and can be added to the diet when we have “room for extra.” For example, if a person’s daily essential calories should be about 2000 and they have consumed 1700 calories from the essential food groups, they may have 300 discretionary calories that can be left over for the consumption of fats, oils and sweets. However, it is also important to remember that essential fatty acids are included in this category and are an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet. Therefore, it is important to choose your fats wisely.
Both fats and oils are included in this category. Though similar, they are two distinct food types.
Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature such as olive oil, canola oil and soybean oil. Most are products of vegetables, some fruit or fish. They can be used for cooking or other, such as walnut oil and sesame oil, can be used for flavoring. Foods such as avocados, nuts and olives are high in oil. Most oils are high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, and low in saturated fats. Oils and other foods from plant sources do not contain cholesterol.
Fats, such as butter, animal fat and shortening are solid at room temperature. Solid fats tend to contain more saturated or trans fats than oils. Saturated fats and cholesterol raise the LDL, or bad, cholesterol, and can increase the risk of heart disease.
There are many positive effects one can get from the consumption of some oils. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated (PUFA) or monounsaturated (MUFA) fats. These fatty acids are necessary for health and are known as “essential fatty acids.”
MUFA’s and PUFA’sare found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils and do not raise our LDL cholesterol. They are also a major source of Vitamin E in our diet.
Vitamin E:Found in nuts (almonds and walnuts), vegetable oils, eggs and dark green vegetables, this fat soluble vitamin aids in blood cholesterol reduction, blood flow to the heart, capillary wall strengthening, age retardation and anti-oxidation. A lack of vitamin E can lead to dull and falling hair, enlarged prostate, gastrointestinal disease, impotency, miscarriage, muscular wasting and heart disease.
Though these types of healthy oils that are found in foods such as tuna, salmon, olives, avocados, almonds and walnuts, are essential to the diet and have many excellent health benefits, they are very high in calories and should be consumed with attention to one’s total caloric balance.
All the foods we eat are fuel for the creation of a healthy body, as well as provide the energy we need to perform all of our daily activities. Though it may often seem difficult to track all the nutrients we need and can gain by eating whole foods, the benefit lies in the results of a vibrant, energetic, healthy body that has strong immunity to illness, cancer and other diseases. Sturdy bones provide a healthy foundation to a body strong with lean muscle. A vigorous heart and sharp brain give the stamina to perform and operate. The end result of a healthy body far outweighs the efforts put into making the right choices in our daily nutritional plan.