There is a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of fat in our diet. Fat is often portrayed as being a bad food and we often hear people say "eat fat and you get fat". With all the negative emphasis on fat and cholesterol consumption, the fact that fat is an essential dietary component, is often overlooked. This session will focus on the roles of fat, the different types of fat, and ways to cut down on fat in the diet.
To improve the nutrition knowledge of university/college students regarding the role of fat in nutrition and ways to cut down on fat in the diet.
At the end of this session participants will gain an understanding of:
- Why our bodies need fat.
- The different types of fat available in foods.
- Ways to reduce the amount of fat in the Canadian diet.
|| 15 Minutes
Suggested Background Reading for Presenters
- Low Fat Products in Food Preparation, Ministry of Agriculture and Food, 1992.
Herbert, V. Subak-Sharpe, G.
- The Mount Sinai School of Medicine: Complete Book of Nutrition. New York, St. Martins Press, 1990. Ch.6.
- Food Guide Facts Background for Educators and Communicators, Health and Welfare Canada. (Included)
- PENS: The "Fats" of Life
- Types of Fat
- Ways to Reduce Fat
- Experiment with Different Cooking Techniques
- Grain Products - Bread
- Grain Products - Baked Goods
- Grain Products - Snack Items
- Grain Products - Pasta
- Grain Products - Cereals
Nutrition Matters: Facts About Fat, Middlesex-London Health Unit
So you want to cook with less fat..., Middlesex-London Health Unit
Nutrition Matters: Smart Cooking the Low Fat Way, Middlesex-London Health Unit
Trimming The Fat:
- Activity A. Find Out About Fat
- Activity D. Identifying the Sources of Fat
- Activity E. Case Study (Use overheads 5 - 9 to demonstrate fat content.)
[Invite participates to complete Activity A as they are gathering for this session.]
Why do our bodies need fat?
Fat is an essential nutrient. Many people have a negative attitude towards fat but our bodies do need fat. Fat serves many roles in our bodies.
Functions of Fats
- provide a ready source of energy.
- supply the fatty acids necessary for many chemical reactions in the body.
- carry the four fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
(An extremely low fat diet can result in a deficiency of these vitamins; fat allows these vitamins to be properly absorbed.)
- make eating more pleasurable by providing flavour, aroma and texture to foods.
- regulate temperature by insulating our bodies.
- provide a protective cushion for organs.
Types of Fat
(Overhead 2) Fats found in foods can be divided into three categories: cholesterol, saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
Cholesterol is a waxy-like substance needed to make hormones and cell membranes, to cover nerve fibres and to help transport essential fatty acids in the body. People often confuse the two types of cholesterol - blood cholesterol (a.k.a. serum cholesterol) and dietary cholesterol (a.k.a. cholesterol from food).
- Blood Cholesterol is produced by the liver and travels in the blood. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can collect on the walls of the blood vessels, blocking circulation.
- Dietary Cholesterol is the cholesterol found in food. Only animal sources, such as liver and other organ meats, shrimp, egg yolks, lard, butter, milk, meat and poultry contain cholesterol. Although it may seem logical, a high dietary cholesterol intake does not create high blood cholesterol levels. It is the TOTAL fat (in addition to the amount of saturated fat) in the diet which increases blood cholesterol levels. Manufacturers of food products thrive on labelling their products "cholesterol free" leading people to believe that they are receiving an extraordinary health benefit. However, research indicates that in most cases, the cholesterol you eat has little effect on the amount of cholesterol in your blood. The biggest culprit in raising blood cholesterol is consuming excess fat in the form of SATURATED FATS!
- Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Examples include shortening found in baked goods (cookies, cake and fried products such as donuts, french fries, chicken nuggets, etc) and fats derived from animal sources such as milk, meat, cheese and butter. The only vegetable oils which contain saturated fats are tropical oils (coconut, palm, palm kernel oils). Because your body uses saturated fat to create cholesterol, you have a higher risk of having high blood cholesterol if you eat a lot of saturated fats.
- Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats can be classified as monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fats. Indeed, these fats may help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and include the following oils: canola, corn, cottonseed and olive oil and the "s" oils: sunflower, safflower, soybean and sesame. Other sources of these fats include walnuts (and other nuts) and some soft tub margarines. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have received good press. Both are linked to reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, however, caution is needed in the amount eaten since it is "total fat" as well as "type of fat" which are important in reducing the risk of health related diseases. The message given Canadians by the Dietitians of Canada is "Eat less fat."
Eating less Fat
Cutting back on dietary fat is important for a healthy heart and a healthy weight. Many low fat and light products can be substituted in cooking for their full fat counter-parts; but this will depend on cooking methods and type of recipe. With some products, noticeable changes in flavour, texture, and / or appearance may be observed; but with a little experimentation, delicious lower fat versions can often be achieved. Here are a few tips on reducing the fat in your diet. (Overhead 3)
- Have fried or deep-fried foods less often and/or reduce the portion sizes eaten.
- Cut down on the fat in recipes (i.e., muffins & loaves) by using only 2/3 of the recommended amount. You may want to adjust the texture of batters by adding milk or apple sauce, pureed prunes or corn syrup to the recipe.
- Use the lower fat versions of salad dressings mayonnaise, and cream cheese on salads, and sandwiches. You'll barely notice a different in taste. (Overhead 4)
- To minimize the amount of fat used in cooking, experiment with different techniques. Here are a few examples.
- Saute in broth.
- Lightly baste with oil and BBQ.
- Steam and season with fresh herbs or lemon juice.
- Microwave until half cooked, toss with a can of reduced fat cream soup (add your favourite ingredients) and bake topped with bread crumbs.
- Coat diced or julienne potatoes with seasoned salt, spray with cooking oil (Pam) and bake until crispy. (You'll be surprised how similar they taste to deep fried french fries.)
- For a deliciously tender roast (pork, beef, or chicken), place meat in a slow cooker (crock pot) with a small amount of broth, and vegetables. Allow to cook for up to 8 hours depending on size of meat. It will smell, taste and look delicious. (To add an additional smoky flavor and presentation , briefly sear meat on a BBQ after it is completely cooked.)
- Stir fry strips of chicken, beef or pork in a small amount of oil with fresh vegetables. Season and top with a few roasted almonds or sesame seeds.
- BBQ or broil almost any cut of meat. Spray BBQ grid with a cooking oil spray (i.e., Pam) to prevent very lean cuts from sticking.
- Season fish with dill and poach. Top with a bit of lemon juice before serving.
- Dairy Products:
- For stew type recipes that call for cream, substitute evaporated
milk and a bit of Parmesan cheese.
- Top baked potatoes with fat free plain yogurt and diced chives
and/or simulated bacon bits.
- Make vegetable dips with fat free plain yogurt, a small amount of
reduced fat mayonnaise and fresh or dried herbs.
- Add skim milk to soups, sauces and dessert recipes. Use it with cornstarch to make a basic white sauce. Season with fresh herbs.
- Choose lower fat versions of sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt
and cheese for cooking and as accompaniment to other foods.
[Invite participants to complete Activity D and Activity E. Discuss using overheads 5 - 9.]
Types of Fat
- Dietary Cholesterol
- Serum Cholesterol
- Saturated Fat
- Unsaturated Fat
- Monounsatured Fats
- Polyunsaturated Fats
Ways to Reduce Fat
- Substitute Lower Fat Variety:
- Lower Fat version
- Alternative Choice
- Balance lower and higher fat choices
- Make Gradual Changes
Experiment with Different Cooking Techniques
- Saute in Broth
- Baste with oil and BBQ
- Low fat Vegetable Casserole
- Baked French Fries
- Slow cooker
- Stir fry
- BBQ or Broil
- Dairy Products
- Substitute evaporated milk for cream
- Top potatoes with low fat plain yoghurt
- Low fat vegetable dips
- Add skim milk to soups and stews
- Choose lower fat versions of sour cream, cottage cheese, yoghurt and cheese