Avoid Saturated and Trans Fats
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat and replacing saturated fat intake with PUFA and MUFA. For example, athletes should replace products, such as full-fat dairy products, butter, marbled meats and bacon with low fat or non-fat dairy products, vegetable oil spreads, leaner meat choices like chicken or fish, and vegetable or nut oils.
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The Dietary Guidelines also recommend avoiding consumption of trans fats. Trans fats have gone through a process called hydrogenation where hydrogen is added to fat, making liquid fats into solid fats. Solid fats increase the shelf life and flavor stability in processed foods.
Trans fat is found in commercially fried and baked foods such as crackers, cookies and snack foods. It's also found in commercially prepared baked goods, stick margarines and foods containing partially hydrogenated oils. Just like saturated fat, trans fat elevates cholesterol and triglyceride levels and consequently plays a role in heart disease.
Give Priority to Polyunsaturated Fats
The polyunsaturated fats that should be emphasized in your diet include linoleic and alpha-linolenic essential fatty acids. Linoleic acid is from a family of fats known as the omega-6 fats, and alpha-linolenic is from a family of fats known as the omega-3 fats. Two omega-3 fats, docosahexanoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA), are found in fish oils such as salmon and tuna, as well as nuts—especially walnuts, soy, canola and flaxseed oils.
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Use Coconut Oil in Moderation
There's been buzz about coconut oil, which is a tropical oil that's high in saturated fat—more than 85 percent of the fat content. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, 14 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fats, and little vitamins and minerals. As already mentioned, saturated fat is linked with increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and consequently heart disease. Saturated fat increases both types of cholesterol, LDL (bad) and HDL (good). We want our LDL to be as low as it can and we want the HDL to be as high as it can.
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