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Questions, answers, feedback and comments fromreaders about healthy eating and nutrition to keep a family healthy. The Q & Apage.
Questions, answers, feedback, and letters: Nutrition from our readers.
Can you eat too little fat?
Hi. I have a question. I am doing a report on fat for school, and I need to know what happens if you eat too little fat. I know what happens if you eat too much, but not on what happens if you eat too little. M
I wondered the same thing, because of our two children, so I have done a lot of research here.
According to the book The Yale Guide to Children’s Nutrition," William V. Tamborlane, M.D., Editor, writes polyunsaturated fats are essential in the diet because the body can not make them. This is a book my wife and I use a lot in planning nutrition for our children.
The book reads, "The major polyunsaturated fatty acids are linoleic and linolenic. Linoleic acid intake must be at least 2 percent of calories to prevent essential fatty acid deficiency. Vegetable oils, margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressing provide linoleic acid. Corn oil and peanut oil contain linolenic acid. Other polyunsatruated fats are the omega-3 fats, which are found in high concentrations in fish oils. Darker, oily fish, such as bluefish, herring, rainbow trout, mackerel, salmon, and sardines, are most abundant in natural fish oils."
The book continues, "However a diet that is too high in polyunsaturated fat (more than 10 percent of daily calories) can suppress the production of desirable HDL. LDL levels are also improved when saturated fat is replaced with monounsaturated fat. In addition, monounsaturated fats do not negatively influence HDL values." end of quote.
The book goes on to say that monounsaturated fats may be better than polyunsaturated fats when a fat is called for in the diet, assuming, of course, you eat at least 2% of your calories in polyunsaturated fats. That is a very small amount, of course, but apparently necessary.
The National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Institutes of Health has developed guidelines for interpreting blood cholesterol levels, not only for adults but also for children. These guidelines only apply to people over two years of age:
They say, "Saturated fat should be less than 10 percent of calories per day. Because saturated fats have such a potent effect on blood cholesterol levels, this goal is of primary importance."
When food labels indicate fat content of a food item, the labels are referring to triglycerides, not cholesterol. Triglycerides may be completely bound with hydrogen atoms, and thus be saturated. They may also have one of more sides that are not bound with hydrogen. Then they are unsaturated. This is quite important, of course, because saturated and unsaturated fats have different effects on the body, cholesterol, etc.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Poly and monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.
Hydrogenated fats are created when an oil that is largely unsaturated, such as corn oil, has hydrogen added to it, causing fat to become more solid at room temperature. During hydrogenation, the unsaturated fat becomes more saturated. The more solid and hydrogenated the fat, the more trans fatty acids there are in the product.
Be aware that children need more fats in their diets than adults. However, I personally have never read anything that says any saturated fat is needed in the diet. And hydrogenated fats were created by the food industry to help keep foods fresh at the supermarket. We definitely do not need any of these man-made fats. In fact, research is now showing we need to avoid them as much or more than saturated fats.
We as humans may like to eat red meat and other flesh, but I have never read anything from anyplace (but the meat and dairy industry, of course) that says we need flesh (including poultry and fish), eggs, or milk to be healthy. I have read a lot that says we do not need it to be healthy.
I hope this has helped you.
I have read from several different sources that the body only needs 1 tablespoon of fat per day. It is important, though, that the one tablespoon be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, not saturated or hydrogenated fat.
Actually, it is practically impossible not to eat that in the average American Diet. Or even in an American so-called "low-fat diet."
One other thing I keep reading: Children need more fat and children under two need even more fat than older children so keep that in mind when planning family meals. DJ
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