Saturday, March 8, 2008

Body fat -- the Omega 5 oil perspective

Courtney Larrell loves Omega 5 products

As the temperatures fluctuate, we are given a very literal example of why we need body fat. Very often I see people who tell me, “I need to lose this fat.” Many times they are right, however, some do not need to lose more body fat. In fact they need to keep what they’ve got.

Body fat is one of the five components of exercise. It is very important for our bodies. Without enough, we will get sick and with too much we become ill. Fat is stored energy. Think of fat as fuel, stored for your body to use at a later date. It is important to remember that exercise is half the equation and diet the other.

According to health check system, The American Council on Exercise has categorized ranges of body fat percentages as follows:

Women should have 12-15 percent in essential fats, female athletes should have 16-20 percent, fit females should have 21-24 percent, acceptable levels are at 25-31 percent and obese levels are 32 percent and above.

For men, essential fat levels are 2-5 percent, male athletes should have 6-13 percent, fit males should have 14-17 percent, acceptable levels are 18-25 percent and obese levels are 25 percent and above.
Note: Before you freak out on me, essential fat does not leave much room for emergency energy use, which is why we recommend people have more than the essential amounts. Be honest with yourself about which category best fits you to use as your guideline. Also be aware different sports, training goals, life cycle stages and conditions may require more or less body fat than this guideline.

Fat is a necessary nutrient for us, so how do we consume it wisely? According to, our best choices are unsaturated fats and we want to limit saturated, trans, and cholesterol. I challenge you to choose your fat well.

Healthy fats

Monounsaturated fat remains liquid at room temperature, but may start to solidify in the refrigerator. Foods high in monounsaturated fat include olive, peanut and canola oils. Avocados and most nuts also have high amounts of monounsaturated fat.

Polyunsaturated fat is usually liquid at room temperature and in the refrigerator. Foods high in polyunsaturated fats include vegetable oils, such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found mostly in seafood. Good sources of omega-3s include fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, and small amounts are found in soybean and canola oils.

Not-so-healthy fats

Saturated fat. Usually solid or waxy at room temperature, saturated fat is most often found in animal products, such as red meat, poultry, butter and whole milk. Other foods high in saturated fat include coconut, palm and other tropical oils.

Trans fat. Also referred to as trans-fatty acids, trans fat comes from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. This makes the fat more solid and less likely to spoil. Hydrogenated fat is a common ingredient in commercial baked goods like crackers, cookies and cakes, and in fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries. Shortenings and some margarine-products are also high in trans fat. Food manufacturers are required to list trans fat content on nutrition labels. Amounts less than 0.5 grams per serving are listed as zero grams trans fat on the food label.

Dietary cholesterol.

Your body naturally manufactures all of the cholesterol it needs, but you also get cholesterol from animal products, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter.

Stace Rubin is a freelance writer.

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