Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Healthy Athletes Should Know Their Fats/Oils

You are what you eat!

Ever downed a cheesy slice of pizza, dipped a piece of bread in olive oil or enjoyed vinaigrette dressing drizzled over a salad? Chances you’ve eaten at least one (if not all) of the above, which means you know oil makes food taste better. And better yet, we need it!

 The fat found in oil is broken down by our body for energy and a host of vital processes. But with that said, we have to monitor our oil intake carefully, because consuming too much or the wrong kind can lead to serious health problems. Here are three rules to follow when choosing which kinds and how much oil to include in your diet:

Not all oil is created equal

1. Avoid oils that are high in trans fats. Stay away from food or cooking oils that contain trans fats. Avoiding trans fats should be easier now that they must be listed on labels, but beware: “0 trans fats” means there could be up to .5 g in each serving. Since the American Heart Association suggests you get less than 1 percent of your calories from trans fats, for a 2,000-calorie diet that would be about 2 grams (18 calories). So, after four servings of a zero-trans-fat food, you could theoretically hit your limit. 

 2. Limit saturated fat in all forms. Since our body makes saturated fats, we don’t necessarily need to eat them. Most of these fats are found in meat and whole-fat dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream; however, some oils, like coconut, are particularly high in saturated fat. Saturated fats have been linked to elevated LDL and cardiovascular disease. 

 3. Stick to the serving size. For cooking oil, one serving is a tablespoon, not a sweeping flourish or a “glug-glug-glug” into the pan. In that tablespoon are 14 grams of fat, or 126 calories. That’s as many calories from fat as a large slice of pizza, or to put it another way, 15 minutes of moderate running (more or less, depending on your weight; but you get the picture, right?).

 For adults, the Food and Drug Administration recommends between 5 (about 1 1/2 tablespoons or 21 g) and 7 teaspoons (just over 2 tablespoons or roughly 28 g) of oil a day depending on age and gender. This includes oil from all sources (food, cooking oil, and condiments). For fat in general, the American Heart Association suggests you should get no more than 25-35 percent of your total calories from all types of fat. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that breaks down to less than 16 g of saturated fat, less than 2 g of trans fat, and between 50 and 70 g of total fat each day. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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December 24, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , | 1 Comment