We are what we eat: Limiting fat consumption for a healthy life

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 24.11.2019 13:36
Walnuts offer the necessary fats and acids we need to maintain a healthy life. (File Photo)
Walnuts offer the necessary fats and acids we need to maintain a healthy life. (File Photo)

The food we consume defines who we are and helps maintain good health, we must monitor the amount of fat we consume as it might be inside the food we think is healthy

In fast-living conditions, healthy nutrition is becoming a pressing matter each passing day, while public concern about the foods we consume is further growing. The ingredients of food and beverage are now often monitored by the consumers and most people prefer to dine at the restaurants who offer clean and healthy food to their visitors.

Dr. Birol Saygı from Beykoz University stated that people eat at least 70,000 times throughout their lives, which corresponds to approximately 25-30 tons of food. Adding that food is not only a simple daily function but also an essential part of human health and happiness, Saygı explained that especially oilseeds play a vital part in our nutrition.

As all living organisms need energy consumption to survive, fats are the nutrients that give the most energy at 9 kilocalories per gram.

Vegetable oils should be used

Saygı underlined that 30% of the daily intake of energy should come from fats for a healthy diet. Fats provide body functions when consumed at recommended levels. For proper nutrition, it is necessary to consume the suggested levels of fat and maintain this balance. For this purpose, red meat and meat products containing saturated fats, whole milk and dairy products should be given less place in the diet and predominantly fruit and vegetable oils should be used. In the diet, it is necessary to reduce the amount of saturated fat and increase the unsaturated fat amount evenly.

Amount should not be exceeded

Saygı further stressed that oilseeds (walnuts, pine nuts, nuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds) are rich in B group vitamins, minerals, oil, and protein, suggesting that consumption of these foods should be paid attention due to their higher fat content than other foods. He stated that consuming one handful of these foods a day is essential in supporting health.

Saygı said that there are many benefits of fatty foods, listing the notable points as follows:

1- Foods of plant origin do not contain cholesterol, which is only found in foods of animal origin. It is also not present in oilseeds such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and peanuts.

2- Olive, sunflower, sesame, cottonseed, walnut, hazelnut, peanut, soybean, and corn take the lead in vegetable oils.

3- The increase in omega (n-3) fatty acids in the diet helps prevent coronary heart disease. These fatty acids must be taken with food. Linoleic acid (n-6) is found in sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and peanut oil. Linolenic acid (n-3) is available in green leafy vegetables, soybean oil, walnut oil, oily marine fish, and seafood. While n-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, on the other hand, are found in aquatic products and breast milk. It is also necessary for retinal and brain development.

4- Oilseeds are rich in water-soluble group B vitamins of Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2) Niacin, and Folic Acid, as well as vitamin E, one of the fat-soluble vitamins.

5- Hemicellulose is partially soluble pulp. It reduces intra-colonic pressure, increases fecal volume, and helps in regulating blood glucose and decreasing serum cholesterol. Foods with the highest content of pulp are legumes, followed by oilseeds (almonds, walnuts, peanuts), bran whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. The amount of pulp in a daily diet should be 25-30 grams.

6- Diet Pulp is the main component of dietary products in terms of creating a feeling of satiety. Hard-shelled fruits (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds) are rich in pulp, which is necessary for the functioning of the digestive system. They soften the feces by drawing water and prevent constipation. Due to their soluble fiber content, they have positive effects on health in terms of regulating blood sugar, lowering cholesterol levels and protecting against cardiovascular diseases.

7- Vitamin E, which is present in high amounts in hard-shelled fruits, acts as a trap for free radicals in the cell membrane by antioxidant effect and prevents oxidation of unsaturated fats, which are vital for cell integrity. This protective effect, which is essential for the health of all cells, also helps to prevent many diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. These foods can be used in diet as an alternative to foods such as meat and eggs in preventing cardiovascular diseases due to their high energy content but lack of cholesterol.

8- Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are important minerals in controlling blood pressure. Due to the high potassium and magnesium but low sodium content in oilseeds, the recommended daily consumption may be efficient in controlling the blood pressure. Meanwhile, patients with hypertension should consume salt-free oilseeds.

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