Type 2 Diabetes and Diet – Fats
Food List – Fabulous Fats!
This is the third article in this series on Type 2 Diabetes Foods, and talks about the importance of FATS in your diet. The chances are fairly good that if you have type 2 Diabetes your doctor has told you at least once to lose weight. In spite of your need to lose a few pounds, “Type 2 Diabetes and Diet -Fats” explains why cutting out all fats is bad for you. According to the University of North Dakota, fat is necessary for maintaining healthy skin. Fat plays a central role in promoting proper eyesight and brain development in babies and children. Fats are important for other things as well as protecting your organs, producing important hormones and help keeping us warm.
Previous Articles in this series are:
- Type 2 Diabetes Food List – Carbohydrates – Part 1 (Energy for your cells)
- Type 2 Diabetes Food List – Proteins Part 2 (Cellular building materials)
What is Fat, and Is it Important to my Type 2 Diabetes and Diet?
Fat is one of many essential nutrients, and is the most “fattening” nutrient we eat. At 9 calories per gram (for any fat type, good or bad) it is double plus the calories of carbs and proteins. I may use other names for fat in this article like lipids or fatty acids but they mean pretty much the same thing. The three categories of fats I will write about… you guessed it, the good, the bad, and the ugly will comprise all the fats. Since the body can make most fats on its own, why do we need to include fats in our diet? One of the reasons is to help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, consuming too little fat can cause you to have a vitamin deficiency.
The Good Fats?
Essential Fatty Acids (ESA) are the most important nutrients for the brain, which is said to be over 60% fat. Unfortunately your body is incapable of producing these fats, so we must get them from food. Probably the most known essential fatty acid is omega-3 and omega-6, both of which come from fish. If you read part 2 of this series on proteins, you would find I highly recommend salmon for protein. So this puts salmon near the top of the list in two categories of foods for diabetics, no wonder its a superfood. Keep good fats in your Type 2 Diabetes and Diet list for sure.
Among these good fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Consume these fats in moderation and as replacement for some bad fats like trans fats. Unsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol and can reduce your risk of heart attack. This is especially good news for diabetics since heart disease is a major concern. Even though they are good, you still need to limit your intake of them. Some examples of Monounsaturated fats are Olive and Canola oils. Examples of Polyunsaturated fats are fish, safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean oils. Some food sources of good fats:
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole Eggs
- Fatty fish
The Bad Fats.
Bad fats include saturated fats, and I also put trans fats in this category. Saturated fats are the largest cause of diet driven high LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol). In addition, saturated fat may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Foods that contain saturated fats include cream, cheese, butter, whole milk, fatty meats, and processed meats.
Many foods contain saturated and unsaturated fats. The big problem with saturated fats is that if you eat too much your body stores the excess in your arteries. As time passes and this excess stays in your arteries, it will eventually become hardened. This is where the term hardening of the arteries comes from. It is fairly easy to tell which oils contain unsaturated fats, and those with saturated fats just by looking at them. Saturated fats are hard fats, meaning at room temperature they resemble a solid. Unsaturated fats on the other hand remain in liquid form at room temperature.
Trans fats may be the worst fats of all, since they reduce the good cholesterol (HDL) and increase the bad cholesterol (LDL). A nightmare for someone with a heightened risk for heart disease, which diabetics often fall into that category. At one time, trans fats were on FDA’s list of (generally recognized as safe list), but was removed in 2015. Food making companies are mandated to remove trans fats, and were given three years. Pay attention to the ingredient list on the food label, to see something that says partially hydrogenated oils. Of course, the nutrition part of the label may tell you also, but that number can legitimately be rounded down to 0 from .44.
Important to any Type 2 Diabetes and Diet is the inclusion of the right fats, and the exclusion of the wrong fats. I wanted to include this section because so many diabetics have an elevated risk of heart disease. Some hydrogenated fats are processed for the specific purpose of being a preservative, and are quite good for that purpose. But that doesn’t help for those that plan to stay healthy for the long term.
Triglycerides is the term used to refer to the fat in the blood stream. Think of the top two things your doctor will likely tell you to do when you are type 2 diabetic. Lose weight, and cut down/out your use of sugar, which interestingly coincides with lowering your triglyceride level. A normal triglyceride level is below 150, but you have to take a blood test to know this. The visual is fairly accurate and probably does a better job at describing what happens than I could. Saturated and trans fats help to cause the blocking of the arteries, with trans fats being the biggest contributor. If your arteries become blocked, you are in much danger, including coronary artery disease, arterial sclerosis, blood clot, and heart attack.
The best way to counter the effects described above is to reduce or eliminate the amount you eat. A small about of saturated fats is normally tolerated by the body as long as you strictly limit the amount you eat. If you can substitute unsaturated fats for saturated, you will benefit, sometimes greatly. Trans fats have no known health benefits, and there isn’t any safe level for you to eat. Eliminate all trans fats completely from your diet if at all possible.
Now that you know more than I did when I started this article, you also know that fats are an essential part of your diet. The type of fats you consume make a large difference in how your body reacts to the fat. Good fats help your body in multiple ways and improve your overall health. Bad fats cause your body to do things in reaction that are not healthy for you. Be sure to include good fats in your Type 2 Diabetes and Diet.
- University of North Dakota
- Harvard Medical School
- fitness Magazine
- Mayo Clinic
- health Communities
- American Heart Association
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