Happy Valentine's Day

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 2/2/2014

Be Good to Your Heart

What does one believe: low fat diet or not?  The truth is that obesity had its highest rise when Americans were obsessed with the fat free diet.  To be honest, I was promoting it myself many years ago.  Nutrition is a science.  Science is research based.  The more we study and observe, the more we know.  You just have to go with the most up to date knowledge that is out there from a legitimate source.  Visit www.eatright.org for sound nutrition advice. 

People were gaining weight on an extremely low fat diet in the past because fat calories were being replaced with an increased consumption of processed foods touted as “low fat” and “fat free.”  These foods were higher in sugar and refined carbohydrates and calories.  We now know that eliminating fat is not the healthiest way to eat.  Fat is required to help you absorb / dissolve fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K.  Fat is also a source of energy.  Unfortunately, fat provides lots of energy or calories should I say.  One gram of fat provides 9 calories per gram as opposed to carbohydrate and protein which each provide only 4 calories per gram.  So, what’s a gal (or guy) to do?

You should focus on replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats.  As I always say, “think good nutrition.”  Fats are also often called “good’ vs. “bad” fats.  Good fats are those that protect your heart.  They can decrease your bad cholesterol which clogs arteries (LDL) and keep good cholesterol at a high level (HDL).   These include:  monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.  There are 2 types of polyunsaturated fats that are especially beneficial to your heart.  These are the Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids.  These fatty acids are found in cold water fish and some nuts.  People should try to eat 8 ounces of fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids per week.  Mono and poly unsaturated fats are primarily from plant based foods and oils.  See the cool chart I provided to help you tell them all apart! 

The “bad” fats are typically solid vs. liquid.  These fats include saturated fat and trans fat.  These fats increase total cholesterol, your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) which results in clogged arteries.  Trans fat can even decrease your good cholesterol (HDL).  That is not a good thing.  Trans fat increases a products shelf life and makes it harder at room temp.  The trans fat is what gives crackers their great crisp and gives you the flakiest crusts!  Your health is just not worth it, right?  You will see trans fat in a lot of processed foods and snacks.  Check those labels.  You don’t want any trans fats listed on the label.  Also, check the ingredient list.  Avoid hydrogenated fats.   Hydrogenation is the process of making liquid fats into solids.  Also, not a good thing!  Cholesterol is not fat, but a waxy like substance that has a very similar impact on your heart!  Cholesterol is isolated to only animal foods. Also, your body makes it so you really don’t need to eat any.  That could be really hard to do.   Again, see my nifty chart!   Most foods high in saturated fat are also high in cholesterol with the exception of your tropical oils.  So, if you cut down on one “bad” fat, you are making more improvements in your diet than you thought. 

Mono- unsaturated fats

Poly-unsaturated fats

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 6 fatty acids

Saturated fat

Trans fat



Olive oil

Soybean oil

Soybean oil

Soybean oil

Animal foods

Some Processed foods


Canola oil

Corn oil

Canola oil

Corn oil


Some chips


Sunflower oil

Safflower oil




Some crackers

Seafood (shellfish)

Peanut oil




Meat (red)

Some cookies


Sesame oil

Seeds: sesame





Tropical oils: coconut, palm and co-co butter

Some margarine







Some salad dressing









Nuts: almonds







Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)

Fatty fish: salmon




Trout, sardines,

Anchovies, pacific oysters





Natural Peanut butter








So, these are the recommendations based on the typical 1200-1400 calories that our patients eat:

Total fat less than 20-35% total calories.       1200 calories = 27-47 grams fat / day

                                                                                    1400 calories= 31-54 grams fat / day

Saturated fat less than 10% total calories and less than 7% if you have heart issues.                                                                     1200 calories= 13 grams / day

Heart disease                                                          1200 calories= 9 grams / day

                                                                                    1400 calories= 15 grams / day

Heart disease                                                          1400 calories= 10 grams / day

Trans fat-Try to eliminate from your diet.

So, in conclusion, protect your heart by making some positive changes in your diet:

·        Avoid hydrogenated oil and trans fat by reading labels.

·        Cook with olive oil instead of butter.

·        Use oil based dressings instead of creamy.

·        Limit egg yolks to 2 per week and replace some eggs with egg whites or egg substitute.

·        Sprinkle nuts and seeds on salad instead of croutons and bacon bits.

·        Snack on small amounts of nuts.

·        Choose natural peanut butter.

·        Add a slice of avocado instead of cheese to sandwiches, but limit to one slice as a whole avocado can range from 240 to over 300 calories. 

·        Avoid coffee creamers and whipped toppings as they often are high in saturated fat. 

·        Choose all fat free or low fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese… because it is saturated!)

Hope this was helpful.  Please join me for the support group on February 11th where we will review many diet fads and gimmicks!  Also if you want to register for my Supermarket Tour on February 3rd to learn more about reading labels, please e-mail me at janesylvestre@massweightloss.com  See you then, Jane



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