While searching for healthier living, we often keep ourselves away from fats, fearing their unhealthy impact on health. Words like ‘Fat-Free’, ‘Zero Fat’, ‘No Fat’! Often attracts us.
But little do we realise that fats play a crucial role in our body's functioning. Understanding this, the ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition introduced the 'My Plate' concept in 2018, which serves as a beacon to guide individuals in making better nutritional choices for a balanced and healthy life.
'My Plate': A Recipe for a Balanced Diet
The 'My Plate' is a visual representation of the foods we need to consume to meet our daily calorie requirements. According to this, our daily meal should consist of 20-30% fats or oils, 10-15% proteins, and 50-60% carbohydrates, with a glass of buttermilk or a bowl of curd to complete the balanced diet.
The proportions have been thoughtfully curated by considering the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) and analysing the dietary habits of Indians.
Including healthy oils in our diet is a crucial aspect of the 'My Plate' philosophy. Oils are a common source of fats, and they play a significant role in cellular metabolism, providing energy, and aiding the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Not all fats are bad; in fact, some oils contain unsaturated fats, also known as good fats, which are beneficial for our health. Oils like rice bran oil, safflower oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, soya oil, peanut oil, and other vegetable oils are excellent sources of these healthy fats.
On the other hand, oils rich in saturated fats, such as palm oil and palm kernel oil, should be consumed in a small amount or avoided altogether. Instead, it is recommended to opt for oils with a balance of unsaturated fats like monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). These types of fats can help increase good cholesterol levels, prevent insulin resistance, and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
According to AHA (2018), MUFA & PUFA, can lower the levels of unhealthy cholesterol and reduce the chances of heart diseases.
Small Steps, Big Impact: Reading Nutrition Labels for Healthier Choices
Checking nutritional labels of oils and food products to understand the types of fats they contain is a good habit. By making simple swaps in recipes that call for unhealthy oils, we can incorporate healthier choices with a good balance of unsaturated fats.
Being mindful of our food choices and relying on 'My Plate' as a reference can lead to great long-term health benefits, avoiding falling prey to gimmicky or fad diet choices.
Choosing the right oil is of utmost importance for a balanced plate and a healthier life. The 'My Plate' concept, brought to us by the ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition, empowers us to make informed decisions about our diet, leading us on a journey towards better well-being. So let's embrace the good fats and bid farewell to the misconceptions, as we savour a life filled with wholesome nutrition and vitality.