Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fat - the weighty topic

The third in an annual study taken by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) foundation shows some interesting consumer trends about how they perceive their health and what's healthy for them.

Taste and price continue to have the greatest impact on food and beverage buying decisions. Healthfulness as a factor is up 4 percent from 58% in 2006.

70% are concerned with the amount of fat they consume and 68% with the type of fat. Knowing the type of fat was important to survey respondents but knowledge about the types of fats that dietary guidance recommends consuming - including mono- and polyunsaturated fats - is limited.

I hear this played out in emails and blog posts. "Avocados have the good kind of fat." "I can eat as much guacamole as I want."

The good news
It's true avocados do have monounsaturated fat-- the "good" kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. A 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico that found that people who ate avocados every day for a week experienced an average 17% drop in total blood cholesterol. And their cholesterol ratio changed in a healthy way:
  • Levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad fat") went down
  • Levels of triglycerides (associated with heart disease) went down
  • Levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or "good fat") levels, which tend to lower the risk of heart disease, climbed.

Researchers also discovered that avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels.

Everything in Moderation
"Sneaking monounsaturated fats into a daily diet allows you to enjoy similar health benefits," says Melanie Polk, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition education at the American Institute for
Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

"Used creatively," she says, "avocados can add variety -- and good nutrition -- to your diet."

Ms. Polk suggests mashing avocados and spreading it Instead of butter or cream cheese on bread or bagel. Instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich, top the sandwich with avocado slices. You'll be cutting out saturated fat and substituting monounsaturated fat.

Remember, though, all fat and that includes 'good fat' should be taken in moderation. No more than 70 calories a day.

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