Guide To Fatty And Sugary Foods

How vital is fat to your diet and what fats should you look to avoid? Here’s the lowdown on fats and sugary foods.

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Fat is the most concentrated source of energy. We could all do with eating a lot less of fatty and sugary foods. Although, a small amount of ‘good’ fats should remain a vital part of any balanced diet as fat helps the body to absorb essential vitamins including A, D and E, helps to maintain moods, mental sharpness, helps to fight fatigue and supplies the body with essential fatty acids. Fat comes from a range of sources including: meat products, fish, chocolate, biscuits, avocados, eggs, nuts, chips and oils that we use in cooking.  

How much fat should we consume?

A healthy diet should provide no more than 35 per cent of the total calories consumed from fat, preferably less. For the average man this is approximately 90g (0.19lb) of fat per day and for women it is around 70g (0.15lb) per day.  

Trans fats, including packaged snack foods such as crisps, chocolate and sweets, fried foods and commercially baked goods such as cookies and cakes are artificially made and are bad for you. These fats are responsible for raising bad LDL cholesterol levels and can be responsible for heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

Trans fats are responsible for raising bad LDL cholesterol levels and can be responsible for heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats on the other hand, are what's known as ‘good fats’. These improve blood cholesterol levels, benefit insulin and blood sugar levels and lower your risk of heart disease.

Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olives, nuts and natural peanut butter. Polyunsaturated fats are found in the form of walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, fatty fish and tofu. Omega-3 fatty acids are also types of polyunsaturated fats and they have many health benefits such as: reducing joint inflammation, balancing moods and protecting against memory loss.

Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, benefit insulin and blood sugar levels and lower your risk of heart disease.

Eating too much saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood which increases the risk of obesity and developing heart disease and strokes. Simple dietary and lifestyle changes can make a big difference when it comes to fat in the diet. For example, instead of frying food, grill or bake it and use low fat spread instead of butter on bread.

And what about sugary foods?

Sugary foods come in many disguises. Table sugar can be added to foods such as breakfast cereal or drinks or in cakes, biscuits and sweets. Sugar does occur naturally in foods (in fruits, some vegetables and honey) but the fatty and sugary food group concentrates on sugars that are processed into table sugar and then added to or made into various foods.

It is important that you look at food labels to determine how much sugar is contained in a product before you consume it - as you might be surprised just how much is actually in it!

Including too much sugar in your diet is extremely harmful, as it can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, liver damage, heart disease and diabetes.

Including too much sugar in your diet is extremely harmful, as it can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, liver damage, heart disease and diabetes.

Two of the best known simple carbohydrates are sucrose (often referred to as table sugar, it consists of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose, when eaten the body breaks it down) and glucose (often called blood sugar, it is the most important carbohydrate in the blood).  

It is not necessary to have refined table sugar (sucrose) in the diet, your body does not need it, your energy supplies should come from complex carbohydrates (starchy foods in the bread and cereals food group) as these give you a sustained release of energy and keep blood sugar (glucose) levels more stable.

To reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, instead of consuming sugary fizzy drinks, then try and stick to water. Also, if you take sugar in your tea or coffee, then cut this out completely. All of these small changes will soon add up and have a positive impact on your health.

For a healthy diet, eat only small amounts of fatty and sugary foods as occasional treats. Also avoiding, where possible, saturated animal fats.

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