Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fats

  • First, the body needs dietary fat. It allows the proper function of cells and the nervous system, and fat is required for the proper absorption of certain vitamins. Fat also helps us maintain healthy hair and skin, and insulates us from the cold.
  • However, we should limit our fat intake to no more than 30 percent of daily calories.
  • The types of fat are usually separated into two categories: “good” (unsaturated) and “bad” (saturated).
  • The unsaturated, “good” fats are divided into monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, and both types are thought to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. These are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, found mostly in cold-water fish, nuts, oils and seeds, and also in dark leafy greens, flaxseed oils and some vegetable oils.
  • When it comes to choosing cooking oils, each type of cooking oil varies in its ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats. Two oils stand out for their high levels of monounsaturated fats: canola oil and olive oil.
  • The “bad” fats come from meat and dairy products (butter, lard, etc.), and are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats lead to blocked arteries, they also directly raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  • However, all oils are 100% fat and around 120 calories per tablespoon.
  • In baking, “hard” or “stick” butter and margarine provide texture and flavour that is difficult to reproduce. It is also hard to substitute a liquid fat for a solid fat, since they behave differently with the other ingredients. In these cases, it is better to reduce the solid fat rather than replace it. Generally, up to 1/3 of the shortening or butter in a recipe (particularly cookies) can be eliminated without much quality loss.
  • Replace some of the “soft” or “liquid” fat in “cakey” products such as cakes, quick-breads and muffins with unsweetened applesauce, apple butter (thick applesauce), pureed pumpkin (spice cakes and muffins), or pureed prunes (chocolate products).
  • Low fat ingredients like peanut butter and coconut milk are ideal in any baking application, from cookies to cakes (do check the labels for sugar, sodium and trans-fatty acids, which can be higher in these products).
  • Trans fats are created during hydrogenation, where liquid oils are converted into solid fats (shortening and margarine).
  • Trans fats are thought to be worse for us than saturated fats because they not only raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, they also lower HDL (good) cholesterol.

3 comments:

uniform said...

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