The Move to Healthy Fats

November 13, 2013

For many of us, the decision to remove trans fats from food products has been a long time coming.  Also called partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats are produced by adding hydrogen to liquid oils to extend its shelf life.  That sounds harmless, but trans fats are considered the worse fats for your health, they raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol and they raise risks of Type 2 diabetes. Small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats are found in beef, lamb and butter. However, it isn't known if these naturally occurring trans fats have the same effects on cholesterol levels as do artificially hydrogenated fats. However, The American Heart Association recommends that less than 1% of your daily calorie intake come from these naturally-occurring trans fats. The fact is, you need fats as part of any healthy nutritional regimen. There are plenty of healthy sources to satisfy your needs, and please your taste buds, and they're not hard to find! Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils (such as olive, canola, sunflower, nut and soy oils), nuts, seeds, and fish actually lower your risk for disease. These good fats move vitamins A, D, E, and K into and around the body.  Healthy fats are important to promote a sense of well-being and mood-management, for staying mentally sharp, to fight fatigue, and weight control. This means that the ideal approach is not cutting all fat from your diet, it's knowing what fats can be and are actually healthy for you! How do you insure you're restricting trans fats while getting enough healthy fats? Follow these simple rules:
  • Check food labels for trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats. Avoid processed foods
  • Cut back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods. Replace red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish (especially 'fatty' fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackeral and trout)  whenever possible, and switch from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions.
  • Get at least 5 - 10% of daily calories from omega-6 fatty acids. Easy sources are fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, winter squash, olive oil,  flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.
  • Restrict your total fat intake to 20-35% of calories or 44 to 78 grams for a 2,000 calorie daily diet.
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)
  • Limit trans fats to 1% of calories (2 grams per day for a 2000 calorie diet).
When preparing meals, use healthy oils such as canola oil, replace melted butter with 1/2 the amount of grapeseed or nut oils in baked goods. Try using low-fat yogurt instead of that sour cream.  Grill or bake instead of frying! Instead of margarine, try a dip of olive oil with toasted garlic for your bread, it's delicious and simple to prepare! Fats are like any other item in your diet,  it's simple -- choose the healthy fats and you'll be healthier!

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