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Understanding Fats: A Brief Explanation of the Four Types of Fats

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Those people looking to understand what their dietician is talking about when they compare good fats to bad fats will not find these terms on food labels. Instead you will see words like polyunsaturated and Trans fats.

This article will give you a brief explanation of the four types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and Trans fats) and how they affect your body.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are the fats that stay solid at room temperature, such as lard, coconut oil and cow butter. Saturated fats are what dieticians consider “bad fats” because they raise your bad cholesterol level, thereby raising your total cholesterol level.

According to Kristensguide.com saturated fats are often found in animal products such as animal flesh, dairy products and eggs and some vegetable products like coconuts and palm oil. People whose diet consists of many foods high in saturated fats typically are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats have a lower melting temperature than saturated fats, which means that they do not stay solid at room temperature. These types of fats can be found in: canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados.

Monounsaturated fats are what dieticians consider the “good fats” that lower bad cholesterol without lowering your levels of good cholesterol. In addition, monounsaturated fats help to prevent against cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats, otherwise known as essential fatty acids, are fats that can stay liquid even at lower temperatures. Polyunsaturated fats are found in safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, fish, and fish oil.

Dieticians consider polyunsaturated fats the “good fats” as they lower cholesterol and they help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering the amount of fat in the blood.

Trans Fats

Trans fats, often called “hydrogenated” are man-made fats that are created during the hydrogenation process. They are usually monosaturated or polyunsaturated fats that have been processed to make them solid at room temperature. These types of fats are unnatural and toxic to your body. Trans fats are abundant in packaged and processed foods. Some of the foods that Trans fats are found in include vegetable shortening, margarine, and some dairy products.

Dieticians consider Trans fats the “bad fats” as they can cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, low birth weight babies, and sterility.

How Fats Affect You

Fats are essential to your overall health. Fats provide energy and certain types of vitamins and minerals can only be processed by your body when fats are present. Trying to eliminate fats from your diet can lead to problems like vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

While you cannot eliminate fats completely from your diet, you should be conscious to consume fats in moderation.

Most dieticians will recommend that no more than 10 percent of your daily calories come from saturated fats, with up to 10 percent coming from polyunsaturated fats and up to 15 percent coming from monounsaturated fats. No amount of Trans fats are safe or are recommended on a daily basis.

The best way to keep an eye on your daily fat intake is to be cautious of what you eat and to be a good label reader. This will help you to keep your dietary fats at a healthy level.


Fall Squash: Don't Miss Out on These Fantastic Fall Fruits

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Now that summer is coming to a close, it's time to enjoy one of the most popular fruits that fall has to offer: squash. While they are commonly thought to be vegetables, botanically speaking squash are actually considered a fruit due to the fact that they have their seeds on the inside.

According to everynutrient.com, the winter squash group includes pumpkin, acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash. Winter squash, like other richly colored vegetables, provide excellent sources of carotenes. The richer the color, the richer the concentration. In addition they are also a good source of vitamins B and C, folic acid, fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium. Studies even show that winter squash exert a protective effect against many cancers.

Summer squashes which include yellow squash and zucchini, have a higher water content, therefore are not as nutrient dense as the winter varieties. But they still provide nutritional benefits including low calorie count, vitamin C, potassium and carotenes.

When it comes to picking out the best squash at the grocery store, thenibble.com says that summer squash are thin-skinned and bruise easily, so look for firm, blemish-free ones with taut skin. The smaller ones are sweeter, tenderer and tend to last in the fridge for about a week before they start to wrinkle.

Winter squash have hard, thick rinds and often may require a hammer to cut one in half. Their thick skin makes them last longer. You can often keep winter squash fresh in cool, dark places for one to three months.

Here are a few storage tips for squash:

Avoid storing squash near apples, avocados or passion fruit, all of which are are natural ripening agents that release ethylene gas. While they are great to throw into a paper bag to aid the ripening process of other fruits like pears, bananas and tomatoes (and to quicken plant flowering), they only discolor and decay zucchini and other dark green squash.

When storing winter squash with woody stems, leave a 4-inch (or longer) stem on the fruit. Fleshy or softer stems, such as those found on banana and hubbard squash, can be cut to one 1 to 2 inches. This helps to retain moisture.

The squash is also very versatile when it comes to using them to cook. While some require cooking others, like zucchini can be prepared in every conceivable way: raw, sautéed, grilled, steamed, boiled, broiled, baked, fried, microwaved or freeze-dried. They can be easily puréed for soups, cakes, pies and quick breads; it also can be spiced and added to rice pilafs, cubed and grilled on skewers, added to stews and made into famous dishes like ratatouille and pumpkin pie. Served alone or as a side dish, the diverse flavors of squash lend itself to any occasion.


Great Summertime Fruits: Get Them While they Last!

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Summer is a great season to partake in the numerous delicious seasonal fruits. Not only do these summertime fruits taste great, but they also give you many nutritional benefits. According to MSNBC, electrolytes and water are readily available in foods such as fresh fruits. Summer offers a wider selection of yummy and juicy fruits than any other season making it super easy to get your daily helping of fresh produce.

Some fruits to enjoy before the season ends include:

Berries- Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries and more are high in fiber and vitamin C. In addition, the phytochemicals in blueberries, strawberries and blackberries all boost immunity, and protect against heart diseases and circulatory problems. Cherries are another summer ripe fruit that contain these wholesome nutrients as well.

Peaches and plums- Full of vitamin C and beta carotene, peaches and plums help to eliminate free radicals from the body. Purple and red plums also contain fiber and the skins contain anthocyanidins, potent antioxidant phytochemicals.

Papayas and mangoes- Irresistibly mouth-watering summer fruits, both papayas and mangoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene and fiber. Papayas also contain potassium and folate. Folate prevents developmental defects in fetuses and supports cardiovascular health.

Figs- Summer is the season for fresh figs. Fresh or dried, sweet figs are one of the highest fruit sources of fiber, and they also contain significant amounts of minerals potassium (great for replenishing losses in sweat), calcium and iron.

Melons- You can't forget about ice-cold, refreshing watermelon! All the melons, including cantaloupe, casaba, and honeydew, are summer fruits. Cantaloupe with its peachy-orange flesh is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C. Juicy watermelon is a rich source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, and a good source of lycopene. Lycopene, most popularized in tomato products, is an antioxidant carotenoid that has been shown to prevent prostate cancer.

There's nothing quite as tasty or nutritious as beating the heat with the thirst-quenching and nutritious fruits of summer- make your summer a savory experience.


Need a Good Night's Sleep? Try These Bedtime Snacks

Written by Lisa Jillanza

A good night's rest is good for your overall well-being and is also helpful in keeping a youthful appearance and will make you feel younger too. So which foods should you snack on if you're finding it hard to get to sleep and counting sheep just isn't working?

According MSNBC.com, among the best natural sedatives is tryptophan. One of the ingredients necessary for the body to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter best known for creating feelings of calm, and for making you sleepy.

Experts suggest the following snacks to induce “feel-good relaxation chemicals” thereby calming your nerves and slowing your brain towards relaxation:

Non fat popcorn Oatmeal with sliced bananas One cup of plain yogurt with mixed nuts or granola Sesame seeds Pretzels Low fat vanilla pudding Grapes Healthy cereal with skim milk Low-fat granola bar

It's also suggested that bedtime snacks not exceed more than 200 calories

So next time you're tossing and turning opt for any of the snacks above to achieve a peaceful night's sleep that you need and deserve. Good night!

Eat your Leafy Greens! The Health Benefits of Spinach

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Ever since we saw Popeye take out that can of spinach to make himself super strong, we have known about the nutritional benefits of spinach. But there are plenty of other benefits of spinach that maybe even Popeye was not aware of.

Leafy, green vegetables, like spinach, provide more nutrients than any other food. Researchers have found at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that have been known to act as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents.

According to MSNBC, spinach protects against eye disease and vision loss and is also good for brain function. It guards against colon, prostate, and breast cancers as well as heart disease, stroke, and dementia. It lowers blood pressure; is an anti-inflammatory; and is great for bone health.

Spinach has an amazing array of nutrients, including high amounts of vitamin K, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and iron. In addition, a carotenoid found in spinach not only kills prostate cancer cells, it also prevents them from multiplying. Folate promotes vascular health and has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers and to help stop uncontrolled cell growth, one of the primary characteristics of all cancers.

The vitamin C and beta-carotene in spinach protect against colon cancer in addition to fighting inflammation, making them key components of brain health, particularly in older adults. Spinach is loaded with vitamin K and is also rich in lutein, which protects against age-related macular degeneration, and it may help prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of cholesterol buildup.

With this laundry list of health benefits, it's no wonder why fresh spinach should be a daily staple in your diet. It's easy to find year-round so do yourself a healthy favor and aim for a few ounces, raw or steamed, every day. Cooked spinach is a great source of iron, and is totally fat free.

So maybe Popeye was really onto something,