SoFAS Do Not Belong in the Kitchen

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In the recently updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the term SoFAS is defined as solid fats and added sugars.

Solid fats are those that remain in solid form at room temperature. They tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fats that can increase total cholesterol especially the LDL's. Some solid fats are found naturally for example in lard. Others like stick margarine or vegetable shortening are the result of the hydrogenation process which also produces trans fats.

Many foods have sugar but not all foods have added sugar. Most carbohydrate containing foods contain sugars in the form of glucose, fructose, or lactose. For example, fruit and the juice squeezed from fruit naturally contain the sugar fructose that makes them sweet. Fruit drinks on the other hand contain added sugars that make them sweet.

Health experts recommend a daily calorie intake that contains 15 percent or less from SoFAS. However, Guideline studies found the actual intake for Americans of all ages and sexes to be more like 35 percent from foods and snacks such as pies, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, soda, fruit drinks, energy and sports drinks. Several health organizations, including the American Heart Association, suggest that added sugar should be limited to no more than 6-7 percent of your total calories. That would indicate that solid fats would contribute 8 percent or less of daily caloric intake.

In the old Food Guide Pyramid fats, oils and sweets were found at the top of the diagram and visually encouraged sparing consumption. In the new My Pyramid graphic, this group doesn't have the same visual prominence or reminder of limitation. Here are three basic keys to help you remove the SoFAS from your kitchen.
  • Maximize nutrient-dense food choices. Nutrient dense foods provide you with the most key nutrients for the calories consumed. Key nutrients build, repair and maintain our body tissues, regulate body processes and fuel the body for an active lifestyle. Nutrient rich calorie choices fill you up and thus leave little room for the "empty" calories from SoFAS that offer few nutrients the body can use.

  • Limit processed foods in favor of whole foods. Highly processed foods tend to be high in calories, sodium and added sugars. Whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and fluid milk are rich in nutrients and natural sugars. Add whole grain carbohydrate choices too and you have all the basics for meals and snacks that are rich in vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber which are lacking in many American diets.

  • Limit foods eaten away from home and when you do make informed choices. The number of quick service restaurants has more than doubled since the 1970's when I was growing up and so have the serving sizes. Estimates suggest that nearly half of our food budgets are spent on food eaten away from home. One of the easiest ways to reduce SoFAS intake is by knowing what you are eating. The best way to do that is to prepare nutrient-rich and calorie wise food choices at home more often than eating out. When you do eat away from home, plan ahead so you can minimize the SoFAS and maximize your nutrition.
The Bottom Line
We need to eat a diet balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats every day to supply the body with the vitamins and minerals necessary for health. If you are having trouble meeting your weight loss goals, check your diet for sources of SoFAS and get them out of your kitchen. Solid fats and added sugars are very tempting because they come in our favorite sweet and salty treats and sugary drinks. Learning the difference between natural foods and their natural sources of sugar and those with added sugars can be tricky but it is possible. At the same time, it is crucial to understand that although solid fats enhance baked products especially in taste and texture, portion control and selection limitation are crucial to long term success and health.

Have you ever heard of the term SoFAS? What SoFAS rich food or snack is hardest for you to resist?

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Sorry, but I have to disagree with the SoFAS guideline!!!

Natural fats are healthy for you! Coconut oil is one of them. So is olive oil. And I use butter, too.

NONE of the man-made processed oils like vegetable oil, canola oil, margarine or obviously- the hydrogenated franken-fats. I've thrown those OUT. I also read the labels of foods too- and if they are made with any of these oils, I won't buy or eat them either.

So much of the "conventional wisdom" of the last few decades are actually WRONG. People started eating margarines, having low-fat foods, eating more grains... and got fatter. Go back to eating natural whole foods (including fresh meat & eggs (with the yolk) that wasn't factory-farmed).. along with fruits & vegetables. Avoid the processed foods, grains, sugars... and just WATCH the fat drop off.

READ LABELS for ingredients!! It shouldn't be full of chemicals. Don't get tricked by the "vitamin fortified" stuff. Or the "lowfat" stuff. Or even the "made with whole grains" things... they are still too processed- and many contain sugars like HFCS and hydrogenated oils.

Read "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes. Report
I have never heard of the term, either. I guess what would be hardest for me is ice cream or fruit juice bars. I don't really understand why they have to add so much sugar to the fruit juice bars, though. But in the summertime I love to get those. Report
Ironically it is when I changed my diet to only eating butter and coconut oil (which ARE solid at room temp) is when I was able to go entirely off of statins and my blood counts returned to normal. My cardiologist was surprised but said to continue.

Sorry to buck the current convention but the more we've eased away from these the more the american health has deteriorated. I'll stick to my program, thank you very much!

As for hydrogenated....avoid frankenfoods! Report
Never heard of this. Guess I have to give up the stick margarine. Report
Never heard of this acronym, have heard that hydrogenated oils and added sugars aren't healthful. But I believe in moderation and not in deprivation. I loathe olive oil so go with canola oil when I need oil. I can't afford butter except maybe once a year for a special recipe, so I use margarine (which I prefer anyway) relatively infrequently. I can usually avoid potato chips, but adore Ruffles, so I ration them and place my serving on a plate, and don't eat from the bag. They are a "side" with certain foods, not a snack for me. I am not ready to ban favorite foods from my home. I want to eat healthier, but I do not want to be fanatical about it. Report
I had never heard this term. My hardest to pass up is also sweets. Only exposed at celebrations and always ask for just a taste. Bringing them into the house would be a challenge to portion control, because even a planned portion would add up if it becaame a daily habit. Report
Peanut butter would be hardest to give up, I suppose. Report
I agree with KatBoxJanitor - ps love the name - Good Grief another acronym!!!

I still believe in real food and EVERYTHING in moderation! Report
Gee, another GD acronym. JWIN. Report
I've never heard of the term SoFAS. Good to know! My hardest-to-resist food is chocolate (and ice cream, in the summer especially). Report
Never heard of it. My down-fall food is drinking MILK. Have to avoid it. Report
I'm confused. We gave up packaged baked goods and most candy due to the addition to these products of tropical oils: palm oil, palm kernel oil and/or coconut oil. Not too long ago there were several reports on the local news about movie popcorn having coconut oil on it instead of butter and how bad it - and all tropical oil - was for consumers. A health-conscious friend insists there is nothing wrong with palm oil and some here say coconut oil is OK, so I don't get it. Report
Coconut oil is an exception to this, it is solid under 72 degrees, also a healthful replacement for lard or butters while baking! Report
We eat a non-hydrogenated margarine, but even that is pretty limited. Never heard the term either, but I can see it being a useful way to remember things to keep out. Report
What about coconut oil? Is it a SoFAS? Report
"Nutrient rich calorie choices provide little room for the "empty" calories that SoFAS provide because they offer few nutrients the body can use for the calories they provide." - Sounds like the author is saying nutrient rich foods offer few nutrients the body can use, which is confusing. Otherwise good article; I like the SoFA acronym, it's quick and easy to remember.

Never heard of SoFAS. I guess there is always some new acronym on the horizon. Report
Never heard of! Report
Very informational. I like the abbreviation - good way to remember the diet dangers. Report
My weakness would have to be Goldfish and Cheese-Itz crackers!! I measure my food anyway, but when I wasn't I would still have to portion out the Goldfish or I would eat a whole bag in one sitting :-/ Report
I'm weak when it comes to potato chips also. I think its the salt + crunch combo. I like the idea of the baked sweet potato. Good idea. Report
I'm with BTVMAVS- make my own meals, make my own yogurt, etc.
But my biggest weakness is chips.
Mostly I divert my potato obsession (Irish heritage (lol)), to oven baked sweet potato / potato mix, with sea salt, tumeric, rosemary, but- I am weak when faced with potato chips at the supermarket- nom nom!
I liked this article, it made me get real about this fat intake, I am starting a no chips with saturated or hydrogenated fat streak.
I could eat all the candy stuff and carbohydrate treats but mostly my sweet for today will be rye bread with natural peanut butter and watermelon. Report
My SoFA weakness is probably baked goods. I don't keep cookies, cake, or any packaged goodies in the house any more, but if I go out for breakfast or lunch, muffins and pumpkin bread and pain au chocolate all call my name! Luckily, they are a "once in a while" treat and NOT an every day thing. I've become very cautious about reading ingredient lists so I can avoid sugar - I eat only plain yogurt, I won't buy anything with corn syrup, and I try not to eat foods that didn't exist back in my great-grandmother's day.

What scares me is how hard it is to avoid this crap. Even foods like hot dogs have corn syrup in them!!! I know I do better than most folks because I hate soda, make 80% of my food from scratch (even cheese and yogurt many weeks), and refuse to cook with margarine (hubby's a baker. He uses real butter), but it's still scary how much SoFA ends up in my diet. :( Report
I would have to say dried fruit. I know they add sugar and sometimes oil in the process. Report
My soFA weakness is cake at a gathering. It is hard to not eat a piece of celebratory cake when everyone else is. 1 piece once in a while wouldn't break the bank, but there are so many celebrations this time of year. Report
I have never heard of SoFAS. I suppose the hardest for me to "avoid" is margerine or butter. I find the calorie swap on the olive oil tough! I rarely add margerine to toast or breads. I do use olive oil for my whole wheat pasta and eggs. Report
I have not heard of this term. The hardest for me to avoid would be certain treats, like skinny cow products! They are so good! It is not that I eat lots of them, although there was a great sale on the new chocolate bars, so I indulged in them. I think that moderating the consumption of less harmful treats such as skinny cow porducts is better than going whole-hearted in on HO-hos or ding-dongs...

I cant afford to eat out really. Someone bought me lunch at the college cafeteria the other day. I have a kosher diet, but it is largely vegetarian as well... because of that and my finances I have only eaten out that one time in too many months to know for sure! I suppopse it is really a blessing :) Report
I have never heard of the term SoFAS. The hardest to resist is probably chocolate. I eat dark chocolate, but the added sugar is still there. Report
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