Fun Facts: Fats, Water and Sodium

Here are a few fun facts on fats, water and sodium that I find helpful. Enjoy!

The Skinny on Fats:

You’ve heard eating too much saturated fat is bad for you, but how do you distinguish a food that’s high in saturated fat from one that’s not?  

Food fats are never ‘only’ saturated or unsaturated, but are a mixture of different fatty acid types. As a general rule of thumb, foods that are higher in saturated fat are more solid at room temperature (like butter) and foods that contain more unsaturated fatty acids tend to be more liquid at room temperature (like oils). When you’re cooking and making a choice of what to use in your stir fry, choose liquid over solid (oil over butter). The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to less than 7% of total daily calories.

If you’re a label reader, you’ve probably seen the word “hydrogenated”. What does this mean?

An example of hydrogenation is a manufacturer altering a liquid vegetable oil to act like a solid fat. This makes the fat more saturated and more effective for them in making baked goods, snack foods and a product that spreads like butter (margarine). This process also protects the end product from oxidation and rancidity. Hydrogenation produces a great end product for the manufacturer, but it’s not a good choice for the consumer. The hydrogenation process transforms a primarily unsaturated fat (vegetable oil) into a trans fat. The American Heart Association views trans fatty acids more harmful than saturated fats and recommends trans fatty intake to less than 1% of total daily calories. For good heart health, read labels and avoid hydrogenated products.

Water

The average human body is 60% water!

This is only an average and can actually vary from 45 – 75% depending on much muscle you have. Lean muscle mass is nearly three quarters water by weight! Fat tissue contains only 10% water. The more muscle mass you have, the more water weight you have!

How much water do you need?

Everyone needs a different amount of water depending on their size, body composition and activity level, as well as the temperature and humidity level of the environment. There are so many opinions on exactly how much water you need.  I go by this rule of thumb: Divide your weight by 2 and drink that many fluid ounces of water per day at a minimum.  I increase this number when I exercise or if the weather is hot. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty! Thirst is an indicator that you’re already dehydrated!

More about Dehydration 

Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. You can have chronic mild dehydration by losing just 1-2% of body weight in water. Symptoms include not only increased thirst, but a decline in alertness and ability to concentrate, fatigue and headache.

Your body is constantly losing water

Your body is continuously losing water through evaporation through your skin and lungs. This accounts for 1/4 to 1/2 of your water loss per day and is called ‘insensible water loss’.

Insensible water loss increases dramatically when you’re sick. Fever, coughing, rapid breathing and runny nose all significantly increase water loss. This is why it’s suggested you drink plenty of fluids when you’re under the weather.

Other Cool Facts

People generally get 81% of their water through drinking fluids and 19% through food consumption.  Think of all the water in the fruits and vegetables you eat. That counts too!

After you drink water, your body can take from 30 – 60 minutes to distribute it throughout your body. To avoid dehydration during exercise or hot weather, you need to drink fluids early and often.

Sodium

Sodium is an essential nutrient

Sodium is needed in the body to maintain proper water distribution and blood pressure.

How much do you need?

For health benefits, it’s suggested people limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. For many (pretty much half the American population), it’s suggested this amount be further reduced to 1,500 mg/day.

The typical American diet contains 3,000-6,000 mg. of sodium per day! Holy Cow!

77% of sodium consumption comes from processed food. Fast food and prepackaged frozen dinners are such a convenience but are very high in sodium.

Too much sodium raises blood pressure, causes hypertension and contributes to osteoporosis.

 Sodium is necessary but too much is not good for your health. Be sure to check labels and watch your intake!

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Source:

Insel,P., Ross,D., McMahon,K., Bernstein,M., Nutrition Fourth Edition. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett, 2013

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