Which foods contain trans and saturated fats

How common are these trans fats in supermarket foods? 

These hydrogenated fats are so favored by the prepared food industry that they have made their way into French fries (one of the richest sources of trans fats), other fried foods, breads and other baked goods, savory snacks, and many convenience and processed foods like potato chips, com and other chips, cookies, and crackers. For years they have slipped into our foods, and it was once thought that they were as good as the unsaturated fats from which they were originally made. A large study recently suggested that limiting consumption of trans fatty acids would be more helpful in preventing heart attacks than simply limiting overall fat intake or even saturated fat intake.

It is a challenge to find ready to eat products without these fats added to them. Begin by avoiding foods that list “partially hydrogenated” oil or fat on the label. Margarine manufacturers are aware of this problem, so the old margarines that were based on partially hydrogenated oil are now slowly being replaced by margarines low in, or free of, these fats. Your best choice is to use some olive oil, avocado, and seed or nut butters like sesame, almond, or peanut on your bread instead of replacing butter with margarine unless a careful reading of the margarine label shows little or no hydrogenated oil content or you use one of the cholesterol lowering margarines.

How do I choose the healthiest kinds of meat, poultry, and fish? 

Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and other meats contain cholesterol and saturated fat. If you do eat them, choose the leanest parts and cuts. Remember that, per ounce, chicken with or without skin contains about as much cholesterol as red meat but is somewhat lower in saturated fat.

Between meat, poultry, and fish, fish should be your first choice. Even fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, sardines, and swordfish contain beneficial polyunsaturated oils. These oils help to lower blood triglycerides. These fishes are high in omega-3 fats. If your weight is a problem, choose low fat fishes like sole, snapper, and halibut. Shellfish like shrimp and crab contain cholesterol but are very low in fat. Still, none of these foods should be the centerpiece of your meal.

Good fats vs. bad fats

Is it true that some fish fats are good for my heart? 

Yes, they are not saturated like the fat from most land animals, and they also contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, which have unique protective properties, most notably preventing the formation of abnormal blood clots. It was as a result of research on Eskimos, who rarely developed problems related to abnormal blood clotting, that omega-3 fats became the focus of extensive research in recent years. Try to include some omega-3 fats from fish in your diet especially from tuna and salmon. Unfortunately, about half of the salmon we eat comes from “farmed salmon,” which contains much less of these omega-3 fats.

How can I get omega-3 fats if I don't eat fish? 

Many plant foods also contain omega-3 fats. Good plant sources are flaxseeds, walnuts, grape seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame, as well as some other plant seeds and their oils, and soybeans. They even occur in some leaves like purslane, a Mediterranean grass that grows wild in many parts of the United States. Include purslane in your diet, if you can find it or want to grow it!


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