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Eat responsibly, Kenyans urged

A Murang’a based nutritionist has cautioned that consumption of high quantities of fat can lead to a myriad of lifestyle diseases.

Murang’a County Nutrition Officer Ms Nancy Waitherero Mwangi  said although the human body needs fats to function properly, people need to control the quantity of fats they consume so as to prevent contracting lifestyle diseases.

She warned residents against consuming high quantities of fat in their diet as they pose risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity and stroke owing to too much cholesterol.

“Fats are important for the absorption of some vitamins from food into our bodies, they give us energy, support a healthy immune system and are also vital for our brain’s functioning and development. But they need to be taken in moderation,” explained the officer.

She noted that there are two types of fats, saturated and unsaturated fats divulging that saturated fats cause more harm to our bodies.

“Saturated fats are mostly found in animals, such as fatty meat, dairy products and they are also found in coconut products and palm oil while unsaturated fats are found in plant based foods such as olives, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds as well as oily fish,” she said when KNA visited her office at Murang’a Level-5 Hospital.

Too much saturated fats raise blood cholesterol unlike unsaturated fats that are heart-healthy but should also be consumed in moderation in order to improve cholesterol levels.

“Fats are very high in energy, they can make you gain weight, and you need to keep an eye on how much fat you eat in total in order to prevent contracting diseases,” Mwangi said.

She added that unsaturated fats are liquid at room-temperature unlike saturated fats which are usually solid, one type of unsaturated fats which are particularly good for health are Omega 3 fats that are mostly found in oily fish.

“About a third of our energy comes from fats, which is about 70 grams for a woman and 90 grams for a man per day,” she further said.

Mwangi also warned against consumption of trans-fats which she said are the most harmful type of fats explaining that these were mostly fats made by adding hydrogen to liquid oils.

“Trans fats are present in commercially baked foods, fried foods, and hard margarines among other processed foods and are indicated as “partially hydrogenated fat” on the label,” the nutritionist said, urging people to avoid these fats as much as possible.

Mwangi insisted on the importance of maintaining a healthy diet by mostly consuming vegetables.

The nutritionist also observed that contrary to the modern trend of consuming raw vegetables, some vegetables are meant to be cooked as they contain chemical compounds that cannot be broken down until when cooked.

She advised people on doing some research to know what vegetables can be eaten raw and which ones have to be cooked.

Mwangi also emphasized on the importance of physical exercise and an active lifestyle in controlling body fats.

By Purity Mugo and Sarah Muthoni

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