Suppose your doctor told you that “You need to get your serum cholesterol level down. Your triglycerides are borderline high and cut the fat, especially the saturated fat, in your diet.” Just what would all these statements mean to you? The following fat definitions would be a start in understanding how fat works in the body.
Cholesterol: A waxy, fat-like substance found in animal foods and in every body cell.
Blood/Serum Cholesterol: Cholesterol found in the bloodstream. The body makes most of its own and some is absorbed from the foods we eat. Play important role in hormone production.
HDL: High Density Lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol away from body tissue for excretion.
LDL: Low Density Lipoproteins or “bad” cholesterol. LDL carries cholesterol to body tissues and may form deposits on artery walls and blood vessels.
Triglycerides: The main form of fat in foods. Excess calories consumed from carbohydrate, protein or fat produces triglycerides and stored as body fat. Drinking alcohol can also boost the liver’s production of triglycerides thus increasing your risk for heart disease.
Fat: A group of compounds made up of glycerol and fatty acids. Fat is one of the three main nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat) in food that supplies energy. Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats. Fats are made up of fatty acids.
Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA’s): The primary source is the fat found in animal products such as the fat in meat, poultry, butter and whole milk. SFA’s are also found in coconut, palm and palm kernel oils. Foods high in SFA’s are solid at room temperature. A diet high in SFA’s can have a significant impact on raising blood cholesterol levels which can lead to heart disease.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s): Foods high in these fatty acids including Omega-6 fatty acids are liquid or soft at room temperature. Corn, safflower, soybean and sunflower oils are high in PUFA’s.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s): Foods high in MUFA’s are liquid at room temperature. Canola, nut and olive oils are high in this fatty acid. Research shows that these fatty acids may help lower blood cholesterol levels more than PUFA’s do. The goal for good health is to use oils high in MUFA’s instead of other fats and oils.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fatty acids which are highly polyunsaturated. Food sources are seafood, especially higher-fat fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and albacore tuna. Grass fed animals to a lesser extent. Also found in flaxseed, walnut, soybean and canola oils. Research suggests that Omega-3’s may help prevent blood from clotting and sticking to artery walls thus lowering the risk of blocked blood vessels and heart attacks. A great place to buy fresh seafood in the Omaha area is Absolutely Fresh Seafood.
Trans Fatty Acids: A type of fatty acid formed during the process of hydrogenation or making a fat more stable and solid at room temperature. This extends a foods shelf life. Also found naturally in some foods. Negatively affects blood cholesterol levels.