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Lard glorious lard! - Ed's journal
Lard glorious lard!
So, you may have run into the media message that 'low fat = good'.

It's not quite true. Actually, it's not even remotely true.
But fat - fat's not actually a bad thing. In fact, almost the opposite - it's good for you.

Or specifically, there's good fat and bad fat, but neither has any impact on losing weight - it's just fat has a relatively high energy density, so you get a smaller portion of lard than you would of cabbage.

Just for those that don't know (because I didn't until relatively recently):

Cholesterol is an important part of your body function - you need some.
There's two kinds of cholesterol. HDL (High-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein).

HDL is generally speaking, good for you. LDL is bad for you - they sort of do the same thing, but LDL is more prone to coagulating and 'clogging' and so make you more prone to heart disease, and just generally reduces your blood flow (which is bad).

And you mostly get it from eating fats.
Unsaturated fats are good sources of HDL.
Saturated fats are rich in LDL.

The way you tell the difference? Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature - oils and the like.
Saturated fats are solid.

Just visualise it as what it's doing in your arteries - oil means well lubricated and flowing nicely. Solid fats will coagulate and solidify, and block 'em.

So stuff like olives, nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oil has unsaturated fats, and are (bearing in mind the calorific value - a handful of nuts is about 150kcal) good for you. And rich in fat.

Cheese, butter, lard, bits of fat off meat. Even milk - the fat is from the cream in it, and whilst you can get it runny, cream will thicken at room temperature.
Good sources of energy, not so great for unsaturated fats.

My bag of cashew nuts here:
25g (about a handful) is:
4.4g protein
4.5g carbohydrate (1.2g sugar)
12.1g fat,
2.1g saturated,
6.4 monounsaturated,
2.1g polyunsaturated.

(mono and poly are both 'positive' but mono-unsaturated is the better of the two, as it increases HDL and reduces LDL more)

Of special note is hydrogenated fat and trans fats - a popular ingredient in fast food, as it's tasty, and has a higher melting point, meaning it has a long shelf life for you cakes and humbuggers and stuff. It's ... well, to perhaps oversimplify, it's like 'super saturated fat'. Trans fats do the opposite - they reduce the good cholesterol, and increase the bad.

Fast food restaurants will often use hydrogenated fat, because it has a better shelf life, and lets them cook chips/fries faster.

And, for bonus points, they're not required to label 'trans fats' on the nutritional readout. To quote:
This analysis is supported by a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) scientific review that states "from a nutritional standpoint, the consumption of trans fatty acids results in considerable potential harm but no apparent benefit."

Which is nice.
8 comments or Leave a comment
serpentstar From: serpentstar Date: January 13th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't recommend vegetable oil as a "good fat". It's likely to be very high in Omega-6, which most of us in the West get too much of through processed food anyway. Well -- too much in relation to how much Omega-3 we get.

Monounsaturates are great.

Most nuts & seeds are great.

Oily fish is grand.

I would be inclined to avoid eating large quantities of most other fat sources.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: January 13th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is that because it's just too much fat overall, or because there's a specific reason to avoid that?

Reason I ask is I was figuring in terms of - if you swap out your butter for vegetable oil, that's a net improvement. Am I wrong?
serpentstar From: serpentstar Date: January 13th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
You have 2 factors there really.

Butter is "bad" for having a load of saturated fat, leading to all that cardiovascular nastiness.

Vegetable oil is "bad" for having a poor Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio, which means if you have a lot of it you end up less happy and less smart, at the very least (I'm pretty sure there are athletic performance issues too). That's generic vegetable oil as sold in supermarkets -- there are certain oils that aren't so bad, because they have more Omega-3 or because they're similar to olive oil (very little of either Omega-6 or Omega-3).
ammos From: ammos Date: January 13th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also no matter what your body produces cholesterol overnight so for some people it doesn't matter how sensible and low in bad fats their diet they still have high cholesterol levels which of course leads to its own problem.
Yes sadly voice of experience here as I have the hereditary version of hogh cholesterol so even if I ate no added fat and only vegetals I'd still have to take tablets to control it to reduce the risks.
crashbarrier From: crashbarrier Date: January 13th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
i learned a lot about hyrdrogenated frying fats whilst working for McDonalds. its not just because it fries faster. Carefully mixed frying oil has a longer frying life, and they can mix various oils together to make the fried taste nicer and more delectable.

Also, there are not "good" foods and "bad" foods, they are "beneficial" and "not so beneficial" :D:D:D
(Deleted comment)
sobrique From: sobrique Date: January 13th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well spotted. It's a long story, but basically is the result of a word filter on SHC.
mister_jack From: mister_jack Date: January 13th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is, to the best of my knowledge, no good evidence that you acquire any cholesterol from the food you eat; and good reason to think that all the cholesterol you eat gets broken down by your digestive system. Most likely all the cholesterol in your body is made by your body.

Although quantities thereof are still effected by what you eat.
csi_ellie From: csi_ellie Date: January 19th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks Dr Ed. I think you'll find that Trans fats are now banned from a lot of foods. I know cakes and biscuits aren't allowed to be made with trans fats any more which is a good thing.
8 comments or Leave a comment