It’s time to rethink your ideas about fat. Although low-fat diets were once all the rage, it turns out that’s only half the story. Some fats are good for you and should be part of a healthy diet. Here are good ones to look out for and tasty ways to add them to your plate.
According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats are “…simply fat molecules that have one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, this is also called a double bond. Oils that contain monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Olive oil is an example of a type of oil that contains monounsaturated fats.” Monounsaturated fats can help improve your cholesterol levels and blood vessel health. They may also help you have healthier insulin and blood sugar levels.
Examples of monounsaturated fats include:
• Avocados – loaded with beneficial nutrients, avocados are easily incorporated into meals from breakfast to dinner and great in smoothies, too.
• Unprocessed peanut butter – keep it simple, just peanuts and salt.
• Nuts – enjoy a handful of nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. Studies show consuming nuts regularly boosts longevity.
The American Heart Association says that like monounsaturated fats polyunsaturated fats, “…are simply fat molecules that have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, this is also called a double bond. Oils that contain polyunsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Olive oil is also an example of a type of oil that contains polyunsaturated fats.” Polyunsaturated fats provide essential oils, such as omega3 that the body needs but cannot manufacture. They also improve cholesterol and heart health.
Examples of polyunsaturated fats include:
Fatty fish – think salmon, herring, sardines or trout.
Walnuts – good source of magnesium, omega 3, copper, and alpha linoleic acid or ALA.
Soymilk – great source of calcium, B-12, riboflavin and iron.
Seeds – for example, pumpkin (high in phytosterols and zinc) sunflower (high in folate and vitamin E), and sesame (good source of zinc, B1 and phosphorous).
Moderation is key. Fats have about nine calories per gram, which can add up quickly. Here are three easy ways to enjoy healthy fats without overdoing it.
Avocado toast – Mash avocado flesh with a little olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Spread on whole grain bread and top with tomato for breakfast or a light lunch
Trout – place trout on a baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil two or three minutes. Serve steamed asparagus and fresh lemon wedges.
Nuts and seeds – keep them in your purse or gym bag for a quick snack.
All fats are not created equal. Some, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated should be incorporated into your diet. Others, like saturated and trans-fats, should be eliminated or avoided for better health outcomes.