Get Skinny on Fats!

Faryal Panhwar Jan 13 2015

Who said fats bring you’re a-game down? Have you had trouble pulling up those skinny jeans? Have you looked at yourself in the mirror, cursing the fats in your diet for all the weight you’ve gained? Enough with the stereotypes! We all blame fats to be the culprit when it comes to waistline battles.

On a serious note, fats are not the main reason behind your protruding tummy. If fats are not the issue, then stop wasting your money obsessing over low-fat foods. A walk down the grocery aisle will confirm your fixation. Unlimited guilt-free options are bombarded on us: fat-free biscuits, low-fat candies, baked potato chips and what not. Have the digestive biscuits really lived up on their trim, healthy promises? If you’re thinking no, you’re thinking right.

Why Fats are Good for You

Does ‘”low fat” really translate to “weight loss”. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Fats constitute an essential component of our diet. We need fats as a fuel for the body to provide energy, for softening of skin and provision of essential fatty acids not produced by the body. We need fats for adequate growth of the body, and to aid in the development of brain and visual systems.  So, if until now you thought that all fats do is make you fat, I hope you won’t anymore.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

However, not all fats are good for us. Two types of fats – saturated and trans fats – are the potentially harmful variety of fats.  Their intake should be restricted because of their hazardous contribution to cardiovascular diseases and elevated cholesterol levels in the body. Foods from animal sources such as full-fat dairy products, red meat (think beef and mutton) as well as oil belong to the family of bad fats.

Whereas the good fats distinctly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help regulate blood cholesterol levels. The healthier fats fall under three categories: the monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids.

Choosing Healthy Fats

Choosing healthy-fats is not such a hard task. All you have to do is be mindful of what exactly to look for on your next trip to the grocery store. When in doubt, read the label – if you see the words unsaturated or Omega-3, you instantly know it is worth your hard-earned money.

What is the one common ingredient in ALL Pakistani cuisines? Oil, of course. You might think all oils are the same-fattening. That’s untrue. The oils that contain saturated and trans fats are most unhealthy. Replace the unhealthy oil in your kitchen with one that is rich in unsaturated fats. You have a lot to choose from: Olive oil, sunflower oil, Canola oil, and several others.

All those who love sea-food will be pleased to find out that dieticians have recommended fish in our meals at least twice a week. Salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel are fish all pumped with omega 3-fatty acids. Go ahead and get that fish frying, or better yet, grilling!

Another great source of healthy fats is walnuts. Apart from omega-3, they are additionally loaded with Vitamin E. Pour them on your morning cereal and salads and also try some walnut oil in your salad dressings and sautés!

Try eating more avocados – they are crammed with omega-3! Try adding them to your sandwiches or even guacamole if you like!

What you should not be eating

French fries, potato chips, microwaved popcorn, and crackers are some extremely common foods we all munch on mindlessly. Potato chips are the worst culprits! One airy bag of chips contains up to 3 grams of trans fat. Munch on almonds instead!

French fries are perhaps too obvious to be mentioned, but with them being everywhere with their heavenly scent, it makes it impossible for us to resist and we forget that even a medium serving adds to an alarming 8 grams of trans fat!

Your Turn

Now that we’ve established that not all fats are bad for you, don’t always assume that it’s the “fat” in your diet that’s causing your weight gain. Its more so the TYPES of food in your diet that contain some TYPES of fats that are the culprits. Check food labels to make sure you are not consuming foods that have saturated or trans fats. Those foods that contain omega-3 or saturated fats are your best bets. Munch on fish, avocados, and switch to healthier types of oils – olive oil, canola oil or sunflower oil, for instance. Stay healthy and stay positive!

Faryal Panhwar

Faryal Panhwar:

Faryal is currently a second year M.B.B.S student at Ziauddin University. She is an active participate in the Model UN where her passion for debate has received her several delegate awards. Seeking to discover the writer in herself Faryal is now working as a freelance writer for HTV.