Weatherford Democrat

February 3, 2013

Fat is not a four-letter word

Weatherford Democrat


In spite of what you may have heard, not all fat is bad. Although a high-fat diet probably isn’t good for anybody – especially for people with diabetes – fat can still have a place in a healthful menu.

People with diabetes need to be more careful than others in watching their dietary fat intake because diabetes brings an increased risk of heart disease and other medical conditions. However, a few simple steps can help you lower your fat intake:

• When cooking and baking, use oils and fat substitutes instead of lard or shortening.

• Buy leaner cuts of meat and low-fat or no-fat dairy products.

• Trim the visible fats from cuts of meat before cooking.

• When cooking, reduce the amount of fat in a recipe by one-quarter.

• Limit the amount of fat you consume to 30 percent or less of daily calories.

There are four types of fat: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fatty acids. All of these fats contain nine calories per gram. But they affect the body in different ways.

The good news is that monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can help you lower your blood cholesterol if you decrease the amount of saturated fat in your diet. Both of these kinds of fats are liquid at room temperature and can be used in sautéing and frying; polyunsaturated fat can also be used in baking.

Monounsaturated fats are found in olives, olive oil, peanuts, peanut butter, peanut oil, avocados and some nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower and soybean oil.

The bad news is that saturated fats are solid at room temperature and when consumed, tend to accumulate in the blood vessels, which restricts blood flow through those vessels. This increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Experts advise that you limit your intake of saturated fats to no more than 10 percent of your total fat intake.

Saturated fats are found in animal sources such as meats and dairy products. They are also found in some plan oils, such as coconut, palm and palm kernel, which are often used by manufacturers of packaged baked goods.

Trans fatty acids, often found in baked goods, margarine and hydrogenated oils, can raise blood cholesterol levels. When reading ingredients labels, check to make sure hydrogenated oils are listed second or lower, and the food contains no more than two grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.

While you are checking the label, check the amount of dietary cholesterol listed, if any. Some dietary cholesterol is necessary for good health, but too much can increase your risk of heart disease. Cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin, such as meat or eggs. It is not found in foods of plant origin, such as vegetables and fruits, unless eggs or other animal products are included in the sauces or breading.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that nutrition information be included on food packages so consumers know what they are eating. When checking these labels, in addition to calorie count and cholesterol amount, check for the serving size, total fat, types of fat and the amount of sodium, fiber and carbohydrates in each serving. Use this information to help you plan your daily menus.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Parker County is offering a two-night workshop called “Healthy Hearts.” The classes are Tuesday, Feb. 26, and March 5 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Parker County Agricultural Services Center. The classes will include lessons, tips and cooking demonstrations for helping individuals live heart healthy.

For more information contact the extension office at 817-598-6168.

Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Parker County. Contact her at (817) 598-6168 or