A Consumers Guide to Fats

A Consumers Guide to Fats
Consumer's Guide to Fats

Once upon a time, we didn't know anything about fat except
that it made foods tastier. We cooked our food in lard or
shortening. We spread butter on our breakfast toast and plopped
sour cream on our baked potatoes. Farmers bred their animals to
produce milk with high butterfat content and meat "marbled" with
fat because that was what most people wanted to eat.

But ever since word got out that diets high in fat are related
to heart disease, things have become more complicated. Experts tell
us there are several different kinds of fat, some of them worse for
us than others. In addition to saturated, monounsaturated and
polyunsaturated fats, there are triglycerides, trans fatty acids,
and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Most people have learned something about cholesterol, and many
of us have been to the doctor for a blood test to learn our
cholesterol "number." Now, however, it turns out that there's more
than one kind of cholesterol, too.

Almost every day there are newspaper reports of new studies
or recommendations about what to eat or what not to eat: Lard is
bad, olive oil is good, margarine is better for you than butter--
then again, maybe it's not.

Amid the welter of confusing terms and conflicting details,
consumers are often baffled about how to improve their diets.
FDA recently issued new regulations that will enable consumers
to see clearly on a food product's label how much and what kind of
fat the product contains. (See "A Little Lite Reading" in the
June 1993 FDA Consumer.) Understanding the terms used to discuss
fat is crucial if you want to make sure your diet is within
recommended guidelines (see accompanying article).


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