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The Fat Conversation

posted Jan 19, 2017, 9:22 AM by
So far we’ve had the carb conversation and the protein conversation. This week we’re talking fats.

What are fats?

Fats are essential to our diet and important for good health. It provides us with energy and is vital for the production of many hormones in our bodies. There are different types of fats, some of which are healthier for you than others. Fats have more calories than carbohydrates and protein per serving; 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, for example, has about 120 calories! Eating less saturated and trans fats may help you lower your risk for heart disease.

What kinds of fat foods are better for me?

The main types of fats are saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans, and cholesterol. Saturated fats are found in animal-based products, like poultry, meat and dairy foods, and tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil. They are also found in many packaged foods such as chips, cakes and pastries.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are important for a healthy diet as they may help reduce the risk for heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. Omega-3 and omega-6 are polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 is found in fish and omega-6 is found in oils like safflower and soybean, as well as some nuts. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive and canola oils, as well as avocados and some nuts.

Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been processed to mimic saturated fats. Trans fats raise bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower good (HDL) cholesterol. It is mainly found in processed foods, including some butters and margarines.

Cholesterol is found in some foods, like eggs, and is also produced by our bodies. We now know that saturated and trans foods are the major dietary causes of high blood cholesterol levels, and not dietary cholesterol.

How much do I need?

It is recommended that 25-35% of your daily calories come from fat. For better health, focus on foods with healthy fats such as avocados, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil. For more information on healthy fats, click here.