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Frequently Asked Questions on FAT

Are pizza and ‘nyama choma’ considered as trans fat foods? How can I cut back on trans fats when eating un packaged foods, like in restaurants or bakeries? Does this mean that all trans-fat free foods are healthy? Find out more on this questions...

  • Are pizza and ‘nyama choma’ considered as trans fat foods?

    No, they are not considered as trans fat foods. Pizza’s main source of fat is cheese; this is an animal fat making it a saturated fat. ‘Nyama choma’ is simply roasted beef/goat and red meat is high in saturated fat as well. As much as there may be little or no trans fats, these foods are high in saturated fat, which is considered as the ‘bad fat’ as it raises the bad cholesterol in the blood. Therefore we should limit the amount of these foods that we eat.
  • How can I cut back on trans fats when eating un packaged foods, like in restaurants or bakeries?

    Good question! Since restaurants & bakeries are not required to provide nutrition information about the food they serve, we are at huge risk of not knowing what we actually eat.Avoid deep-fried foods, since many restaurants continue to use partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) in their fryers. Also, avoid eating commercially prepared baked foods (cookies, pies, donuts, etc.), snack foods, and processed foods, including fast foods. To be on the safe side, assume that all such products contain trans fats unless they are labelled otherwise.
  • Does this mean that all trans-fat free foods are healthy?

    Just because a food has been prepared without trans fats, it doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. It can be trans-free and still contain a lot of sugar, low-fiber carbohydrate or saturated fat –which are very unhealthy when eaten in large quantities.
  • You talked of unsaturated fats being the ‘good fats’, how can this be? Isn’t fat dangerous for the heart & a major contributor to weight gain?

    There are different types of fat & not all of them are dangerous. Remember that fat is a macronutrient, that means that it is essential to the body. Unsaturated fats are called good fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, transport fat-soluble vitamins needed by the body (vitamins A, D, E and K) along with other beneficial roles.
  • Where can I get my sources of unsaturated fats?

    Unsaturated fats are mainly found in foods from plants such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. They are liquids at room temperature.There are two types of unsaturated fats: Mono-unsaturated fats – found in olive, peanut, and canola oils; avocado, almonds, hazelnuts;pumpkin and sesame seeds.Poly-unsaturated fats – found in sunflower, corn, soybean & flaxseed oils, and also in foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish; canola oil -though higher in monounsaturated fat, is also a good source of polyunsaturated fat.
  • How are trans fats different from the ‘bad’/saturated fats?

    Saturated fats are normally naturally hydrogenated, while trans fats are artificially hydrogenated & are sourced from unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are abundant in animal fats such as butter and lard, as well as some vegetable oils such as coconut oil and palm oil, this is why these vegetable oils end up solidifying in their containers at room temperature.Both saturated fats and trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease by raising the level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while trans fats will even lower the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Thus, it is healthier to choose food low in both saturated and trans fats.
  • Butter is high in saturated fat & margarine is high in trans fats, which of the two is worse?

    The wisest choice is to skip both of them whenever possible. Instead use a liquid vegetable oil such as olive oil. There are also soft margarines that are not only trans-fat free but low in saturated fat; some have the added benefit of containing cholesterol-lowering plant sterols. But even with these benefits, we should limit their use to two servings per day

Article By Alice Ndong “M.Nutr Stellensbosch” for Neem Pharmacy