Many of us believe that fat is unhealthy, therefore confiding in a low fat diet. While excess fat can contribute to heart disease, obesity, and clogged arteries, not all fats are bad for you. In fact, certain types of fat are actually recommended for a healthy, balanced diet! Saturated and Trans fats are the ones that give fats their bad reputation due to their ability to raise LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). Look out for “partially hydrogenated oil” or “hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients list: this more than likely means a product contains trans fats and should be eaten sparingly.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. “Essential” means that they must be consumed through our diet because our bodies cannot make them.  Omega 3 fats may help lower blood pressure and support brain health. Most people know that you can get omega 3’s from fish, but there are other sources such as walnuts, flaxseed, leafy vegetables, canola oil, and soybean oil. Flaxseed can easily be added to cereal, yogurt, or baking goods.. Canola oil is great for sautéing or stir frying.

Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fats can help improve blood cholesterol levels, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Nuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats in addition to being a good protein choice. Olive oil is also a source of monounsaturated fat, and like canola oil it can be used in place of butter. Olive oil is great to use as salad dressing when paired with vinegar. Peanut butter and avocados are also good sources of monounsaturated fats. Nearly half of the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat!

 Adding healthy fats into your diet is very important, but be aware of serving sizes when doing so. Foods that contain healthy fats may pack a high number of calories in a small serving. One third cup of nuts contains 160 to 180 calories one, one avocado is around 234 calories and 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter contain around 188 calories. As always, everything in moderation!

Sources:

“Choose Healthy Fats.” From the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2013.

 Thompson, Janice, and Melinda Manore. Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco, CA: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2009. Print.