Why the low-fat fad?
if ultra-low-fat diets aren’t about getting healthy,
why do people do them? greta Kubis, a High
river-based public health nutritionist with Alberta
Health Services’ nutrition Services, says the
trend towards low-fat foods has more to do with
obesity and people wanting to lose weight than overall health. “one gram of fat has nine
calories,” she explains. “if we compare that to other nutrients, like sugar where one
gram has only four calories, people think that if they cut fat, they will lose weight.” in
some foods, fat content is lowered, but sugar, salt and other fillers are added for flavour.
Kubis warns eliminating fat altogether is not healthy.
Some foods with good fat
•;Fish: salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and trout
•;Fruit: olives and avocadoes
•;Seeds: sunflower, sesame and flax
•;Spreads: non-hydrogenated margarine
•;Nuts: walnuts, pistachios, pecans and almonds
•;Vegetable oils: canola, olive, peanut, corn, sunflower,
sesame and flaxseed.
concentrated sources of energy. As
they grow older, you can look at
switching them to two or one per cent
milk,” says Lee Finell, an Edmonton-based registered dietitian and
nutrition educator with Alberta Milk.
Good fats can also protect
against heart disease, for example,
by reducing inflammation in the
arteries of the heart, and reducing
blood pressure. Some types of fat
are converted to other compounds,
including hormones. In children,
healthy fats are crucial to overall
growth and brain and vision
Getting the right fats into your diet
isn’t just a good idea—it’s essential.
“We call them essential fatty acids
for a reason,” Kubis says. Too little
of them can lead to reproductive
problems, skin abnormalities and,
contrary to what many think, heart
disease. Kubis adds fat is also needed
to carry and absorb fat-soluble
vitamins A, D, E and K—all very
important to health.
When making healthy fats a part
of your diet, think fresh. You can
use unsaturated fats in cooking or
baking, but they are healthiest with a
minimum of processing and cooking.
This means using canola or vegetable
oil is not a good excuse to start deepfrying.
To get the most benefits out of
healthy fats, eat them in moderation.
“We need to eat fat, but people
have the tendency to eat more than
we need,” says Kubis. Canada’s
Food Guide recommends eating
between 30 and 45 ml (two and three
tablespoons) of unsaturated fats each
day. That includes the fat in dairy,
meat, fish and any oils used for
— Abby miller