The F Word

Bunch of avocados

Say it with me – Fat, Fat, Fat…see it wasn’t that bad. Fats are essential for good health, so why do fats have such a bad reputation? It’s because not all fats are created equal from a health perspective. Fats add flavor and texture to your food while providing energy and vitamins to your body. It also allows you to feel full and satisfied after a meal.

The good heart-healthy fats refer to essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6), and mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. For food lovers this translates into cold-water fish, like salmon, sunflower oil, olive oil, and canola oil. The heart attack fats are saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids, in other words lard, milk fat, and shortening commonly found in baked goods. According to the Institute of Medicine keep your intake of these bad fats to a minimum, while maintaining an adequate intake of heart-healthy fat because essential fatty acids have over 100 different actions, such as regulating blood pressure, blood clotting, and maintaining body temperature.

Tangent warning: Are you worried about cardiovascular disease? If you answered “no” to this question then think again because you should be; unfortunately, cardiovascular disease is the major killer of North Americans. For each person in North America who dies from this disease, 20 more have symptoms - in the United States alone 500,000 people die of cardiovascular disease each year! High-fat diets, those rich in saturated and trans fat, increase one’s risk, as well as smoking, inactivity, hypertension, and obesity. Think you’re too young? Scary fact - symptoms don’t become obvious until old age but many autopsies of those under 20 already show signs of plaque buildup in the arteries.

So, why did I decide to talk about fat this week? It’s because Subway food chains in the United States decided to add avocado to their menu. Avocados are the perfect example of a food that contains heart-healthy fat. Apparently, the creamier the flesh, the higher the fat, and again NOT the bad kind! Avocados also include: vitamin E, folate, panthothenic acid, iron, zinc, and fibre.

Prediction for the future – watch for burger giants who are already under pressure to add healthier alternatives, to start including avocados in their menu.

Image courtesy of ollesvensson