It’s important to make sure that you don’t eat certain fats. But it’s just as important to get some fats in as well.
Dietitian Ryanne Lachman, RDN, LD, gives some expert advice on how to understand the facts about fats and how to rebalance your diet with them to stay healthy.
“If you want to add healthy fats to your diet, you need to know the difference between good fats and bad fats. Once you know the basics, it’s easy, and with some planning and swapping, you can easily include them in your diet every day,” she says. “Here’s the information you need.”
Find out the good, bad, and worst things about fat.
“Good fats are an important part of your diet, and they can make you healthier when they are in balance with other foods. They make you feel full so you don’t eat too much, speed up your metabolism, and help control your blood sugar. “They can also make you less likely to be overweight or diabetic, have high blood pressure, or get heart disease,” says Lachman.
“Bad fats can make you sick if you eat them often or too much. And the really bad ones can cause inflammation and heart disease in a big way. Use these tips to make sure you’re getting enough fat.
Say goodbye to trans fat for good.
Trans fats are the worst kind of fat there is. They make your blood have more low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is bad cholesterol. This is a major cause of heart disease. Trans fats can be found in fried, fast, or processed foods, which are often made with PHO, or partially hydrogenated oil (likely listed on the packaging). They are also often found in tempting baked goods that have a lot of butter, margarine, or shortening in them.
In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided in 2015 that PHOs found in the trans fats of many commercially available foods were no longer generally recognised as safe. And food manufacturers had to start phasing out all artificially made PHOs in 2018, so the last food products with PHOs would no longer be sold after January 2020.
Lachman says, “They did this for a very good reason that was based on health rules.” “So if you still find packaging with partially hydrogenated oil in it, it’s best to stay away from it.”
Stay away from too much-saturated fat.
Saturated fats are found naturally in animal fats, dairy, and the following foods:
Red meat is made up of beef, pork, lamb, veal, and chicken skin.
- Whole milk.
- Fattening cheese.
- Cold dessert.
- Palm and coconut oils come from the tropics.
“It’s true that the American Heart Association, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Institute of Medicine all say that trans fats raise your risk of heart disease more than saturated fats do,” says Lachman. “But you should also limit your daily intake of saturated fats.” “That means you should eat a lot less red meat and dairy foods every day. Limits and moderation are very important.”
Put good fats on your list of things to buy.
Now that you know which fats to avoid, the bigger question is, “Where do I find good fats and how do I get them into my diet?”
First, buy whole or unprocessed plant foods like:
- Nuts, including butter and oils made from nuts.
- Seeds, as well as butter and oils made from seeds.
Monounsaturated fats can be used to make food.
Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that can help lower bad cholesterol levels in your blood, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They give your cells nutrients and vitamin E, which is a good antioxidant.
(Want to know how to spot healthy oils and fats? Oils with monounsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature, but when they get cold, they start to get solid.
These liquid oils made from plants are good to cook with:
- Oil from olives.
- Canola oil.
- Peanut oil.
- Sesame oil.
Get as much polyunsaturated fat as you can.
“Polyunsaturated fats are healthy fats that have the same benefits as monounsaturated fats. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which your body can’t make on its own. So if you want them, you have to eat foods that have them,” says Lachman.
You can cook with and/or use liquid oils made from plants in recipes like:
- Oil from soy.
- Oil is made from corn.
- Oil from sunflowers.
- Walnut oil.
- Oil from olives.
You can also buy these seeds and beans:
- Sunflower seeds.
- Pumpkin seeds.
Eat a lot of oily fish from cold water, like:
Put these whole grains on your shopping list. They’ll help you stay slim, too.
- There is brown rice.
Use these daily meal tips to sneak good fats into your diet.
Breakfast boost: Instead of high-fat cream cheese and a bagel for breakfast, cook up some oatmeal and sneak in some flaxseed to give your body a little extra omega-3 first thing in the morning. Replace your high-fat coffee creamer with a little real cream, milk (or a non-dairy version), or see if you can learn to enjoy your coffee black.
Reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat at lunch by adding avocado to sandwiches and salads instead of condiments or dressings. You can replace bacon in your favourite salads with skinless chicken. Skip the cottage cheese with a lot of fat and go for the kind with less.
A dinner that is good for fat: For dinner, crush nuts and sprinkle them on salmon or your favourite oily fish before cooking. Instead of butter, sauté it in canola or olive oil. You can also do this with your favourite vegetables. Instead of sauces made with cream, try sauces made with vegetables or nut butter.
Snack smarter: Instead of potato chips or pretzels, eat olives (not the ones stuffed with cheese) as midday or late-night snack. You’ll still get a small snack, but it will have more monounsaturated fat and less sugar.
Make some spreads that you can use at any time — Grind nuts in a food processor and store them so you can use them as natural nut butter on toast or rice cakes in the morning or as a healthy snack during the day. You’ll also get a powerful protein-packed snack as an added bonus.
“There are a lot of good things about good fats,” says Lachman. “And moderation is the key to healthy eating, as it is with everything else. Enjoy yourself, watch how much you eat, and you’ll start to feel better overall.”