Vegetarian Diets

Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat, and are often called ‘essential’ fatty acids as the body cannot mae enough. The best sources are oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and pilchards. High intakes of fat are associated with weight gain, which can increase the likelihood of developing problems like Type 2 diabetes, joint problems, and some cancers. Too much saturated fat is associated with higher blood cholesterol levels, which may increase the risk of heart problems. European experts have agreed that ALA, found in plant oils such as rape, linseed and walnut, can help maintain normal cholesterol levels in the body.

Fats can affect your health depending on how much and which type you eat. The amount of fats we eat is important and should be around a third of our daily energy. The type of fat is key too, in simple terms we should reduce our intakes of saturated fats and replace with unsaturated fats including omega-3 fats. Reading food labels will help you to make healthier choices and to get the balance of fats right in your diet.

They can be found in ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oil’ but many manufacturers now avoid using hydrogenated fats or have reduced the amount of trans fats in their products to very low levels. Most products summarise the key nutrition information on the front of packs too, and on some products this is colour coded to help us judge whether the amount of fat in a food is a lot or not. Nutrition information helps us review a specific product, or compare two or more products to help our choice. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as fatty meats and meat products, butter, ghee and lard, and dairy products including cheese and cream. Products that contain these fats such as cakes, pastries and biscuits are also sources of saturates.

Some foods have additional information on packs such as claims to be ‘low in fat’ or ‘low in saturated fat’. ‘low in saturated fat’ – 1.5g of saturates or less per 100g or 0.75g per 100ml for liquids. They are an energy dense nutrient and compared to other nutrients they are higher in energy , e.g. protein and carbohydrate provide four kcal/g. ‘low in fat’ – 3g of fat or less per 100g, or 1.5g of fat per 100ml for liquids (1.8g of fat per 100ml for semiskimmed milk).

Fats are an important part of the diet; they provide the body with energy and with some important vitamins . They also provide essential fats, which the body is unable to make for itself. However, eating too much fat, or the wrong balance of fats can be unhealthy. This Food Fact Sheet will describe the different types of fats and their effects in the body. Position paper on vegetarian diets from the working group of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition.

EPA and DHA, commonly found in fish oils, are involved in the normal function of the heart, and DHA is involved in the healthy development of the brain and eyes in unborn children and in breastfed infants. Whilst most fats contain a mixture of these, the dominant type is considered to be the type to characterise the fat. For instance, more than half the fat in butter is saturated, leg cramps on keto and one quarter monounsaturated, so we describe butter as a saturated fat. Around a third of our energy should come from fat, the majority of which should be unsaturated. Typically, many of us meet the recommendation for total fat intake, but intakes of saturated fats remain too high. It does not mean that we shouldn’t eat it, but we should keep an eye on how much and how often.

They can be either polyunsaturated, (e.g. sunflower, soya, corn, and sesame oils) or monounsaturated (e.g. olive and rapeseed oils). There is good evidence to suggest that swapping saturated fats for unsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are not associated with raising blood cholesterol, and some may help lower some cholesterol types. Some vegetable fats such as cocoa butter, palm oil and coconut oil also contain saturated fats. In general, saturated fats are considered to be less healthy because they can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

The reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet often go beyond health and well-being and include among others economical, ecological and social concerns. The influences of these aspects of vegetarian diets are the subject of the new field of nutritional ecology that is concerned with sustainable life styles and human development. High intakes of saturated fat are associated with higher best pre workout for muscle gain blood cholesterollevels. Reducing intakes of saturated fat and replacing with unsaturated fats may help to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Many people do not have enough omega-3 fatty acids, and should try to eat more foods that contain these fats, particularly oily fish. Unsaturated fats are found generally in plant foods such as seeds, nuts, olives and avocados.

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that wholesome vegetarian diets offer distinct advantages compared to diets containing meat and other foods of animal origin. Since vegetarians consume widely divergent diets, a differentiation between various types of vegetarian diets is necessary. Indeed, many contradictions and misunderstandings concerning vegetarianism are due to scientific data from studies without this differentiation. In the past, vegetarian diets have been described as being deficient in several nutrients including protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and A, n-3 fatty acids and iodine. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the observed deficiencies are usually due to poor meal planning. Well-balanced vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly and competitive athletes.

Our diet is likely to be made up of a variety of foods with different colour codes, but we should aim to eat more food with green and amber colour codes than red. All packaged food products have to provide nutrition information on the label. The Nutrition Panel on the back or side of food packs can be side effects and risks used to tell us the amount of fat and saturates in 100g of a food and per portion, some labels also tell you the amount of mono and/or polyunsaturated fat present. Trans fats are naturally present at low levels in some dairy foods and meats, but are also found in processed & hardened vegetable oils.