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Fast Fat Facts.

Our forebears used to have a very healthy diet derived from organically grown fresh produce and free range livestock. In those days words like cholesterol was uncommon. Then the Filipino diet was influenced by many cultures: Chinese, Spanish, Malay, and American.

Fast food restaurants and convenient stores are everywhere. Almost every household has canned and processed foods in the pantry and refrigerator. More Filipinos are developing heart diseases, diabetes, cancers, and other lifestyle related illnesses.

Nowadays, it is no longer unusual for people to talk about how high their cholesterol or blood pressures are. Eighty percent of my patients have at least one condition that increases their risk of developing heart diseases. And just like a death sentence, being told to avoid fatty foods is enough to make someone feel depressed.

Aside from enhancing food flavors and promoting satiety, fat is needed to cushion and position our vital organs, and protect bones from injury. It protects our body from strong blows and impact and acts as an insulation to keep our body warm in cold temperatures. It is needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. It is a concentrated form of energy which provides nine calories per gram.

Despite the health benefits of fat, everyone should consciously limit their amount of fat consumption as well as choose the type of fat included in their diet.

Fat comes from two sources: animal and plants. Animal sources contain fat, triglycerides, and cholesterol. Triglycerides are stored fat and cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is part of cells and hormones like sex hormones. Excessive amount of fat, triglycerides, and cholesterol in the body will cause high blood pressure and heart diseases.

Fat or fatty acids were not created equal.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) when substituted for saturated fats in the diet can lower total cholesterol. Canola, nuts, and olive oil are high in MUFAs.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) lower total cholesterol and are found in corn, safflower, soybean, sesame, sunflower oils, and seafood.

There are two essential fatty acids which cannot be produced in the body. Omega 3 which is found in fatty fish (e.g. salmon, tuna, sardines, trout), walnuts, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil keeps the brain and nerves healthy, lowers triglycerides, and total cholesterol. Omega 6 also lowers total cholesterol. It is found in dairy foods, sunflower oil, corn oil, beef, and lamb.

Saturated fat increases total cholesterol specifically the bad cholesterol. Sources are meat, poultry, butter, whole milk, dairy products, palm oil, and coconut oil. However, coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride which is a type of fat that is easily metabolized by the body therefore consumption in small amounts may be beneficial.

Trans fat is produced by processing fat which makes it more saturated. Trans fat increases total cholesterol. It may lower the good cholesterol thus increasing the bad cholesterol. Naturally occurring trans fat in beef, pork, lamb, butter, and milk don't have the same effect on cholesterol levels compared to processed food and some baked goods.

It is important to combine the different types of fats in the diet and to consume them in moderation. Limit intake of high fat foods like processed meat products, deep-fried foods, fries, pizza, burgers, chips, baked products, instant, and convenient foods to less than once a week. Try foods that are prepared with less fat and flavored naturally.

This July, The Marriott Manila features authentic American cuisines that are way different from the usual high-fat fast food items we are so used to. Chef John Havens created menus that have been flavored using herbs and spices like Marriott Cafe 13 Spice rub, herbs spice, and Cajun spice and healthy unsaturated fats like rosemary oil, truffle oil, and pomace olive oil. The All-American Buffet Dinner at Marriott Cafe is available from Sundays to Thursdays.

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Title Annotation:Well-being
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Jul 15, 2014
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