Tips for Choosing Healthy Fats
Fat is one of three essential macronutrients – the other two being carbohydrates and protein.
Fat provides your body with energy, helps build healthy cells, and regulates hormones. Fat is needed for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat also adds flavour and texture to food, and helps you feel full.
There are both healthy and unhealthy dietary fats:
Healthy Fats. Healthy fats are unsaturated fats including monounsaturated fats (naturally found in olive and canola oil, avocados, some nuts and seeds) and polyunsaturated fats (naturally found in fatty fish, oils, some nuts and seeds). Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Including unsaturated fats in your usual intake can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Unhealthy Fats. Unhealthy fats include saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are naturally found in animal food products such as fatty cuts of meat, poultry skin and higher fat milk, cheese and yogurt. This type of fat is also found in tropical oils, including coconut and palm kernel oils.
Trans fats are also naturally found in small amounts in some animal products. This type of fat is also produced when other fats are partially hydrogenated. These fats are found in some fried and deep-fried foods and some store-bought baked goods.
A high intake of unhealthy fats can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Use the following tips to choose healthy fats and limit your intake of unhealthy fats.
- Choose oils over solid fats.
- Keep portions small – healthy fats are still very high in calories, and we only need a small amount.
- Avoid creamy salad dressings – choose vinaigrettes or make your own.
- Use as little fat as possible when cooking – or replace fat with water or broth.
- Buy lean cuts of meat (round, loin), trim fat from meat and remove skin from chicken.
- Limit your intake of processed meats.
- Eat fatty fish at least twice a week.
- Have a small handful of nuts and/or seeds for a snack, add a sprinkle to salads or add them to baked goods.
- Choose skim, 1% or 2% milk and yogurts. Look for lower fat cheeses – about 20% M.F.
- Limit added fats such as butter, margarine, gravies, sauces and creams.
- Limit high fat foods such as fried and deep-fried foods, breaded and battered foods, pastries, donuts and other store bought baked goods.
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