Ocnutrition’s Blog

“Healthy Fat’’—a Contradiction or Not?
February 19, 2012, 9:13 pm
Filed under: General Nutrition, Heart Health, Label Reading, Weight Management

Fat has gotten somewhat of a bad rap in the past and you increasingly see more and more “low fat,” “reduced fat,” and “non-fat” food items popping up in supermarkets. However a balanced diet should have 20-35% of your daily calories coming from fat. What’s important is to pay attention to the kinds of fat you’re eating, decrease unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats), and focus on healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3).

Saturated fat and trans fats are considered unhealthy because they promote unhealthy cholesterol levels, plaque formation, and inflammation in the body. Saturated fats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your calories and they are found in foods like butter, cheese, beef, whole fat dairy, and other animal products. Trans fats shouldn’t make up more than 2% of your calories and they are found in fast food, fried food, and other processed food with hydrogenated oils.

The healthy fats which have been found to have the most health benefits are monounsaturated fats and omega-3s. Monounsaturated fats can improve your cholesterol and decrease risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats are also needed to keep your body’s cells healthy. Monounsaturated fats can be found in nuts, canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, and avocado. Omega-3 fats can improve heart health by preventing plaque buildup, lowering blood pressure, and preventing irregular heartbeats. The USDA recommends daily intake of 1.6 g (1,600 mg) for men and 1.1 g (1,100 mg) for women. Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna, etc.), canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed, and leafy green vegetables.

A few ways you can include more of these healthy fats in your diet are to:

  • use healthy fats instead of unhealthy fats when cooking (ex. canola instead of butter)
  • have a handful of nuts or trail mix for a snack
  • make an effort to have fatty fish at least twice a week
  • dip bread in olive oil rather than spreading on butter

Remember, not all fats are created equal and monounsaturated and omega-3 fats are necessary for optimum health. Maintaining a well-balanced diet with an emphasis on these healthy fats will improve your body’s function now and help prevent diseases in the future, a win-win!

This information was brought to you by OC Nutrition, Your Trusted Source for Health & Nutrition Advice, and Jenna Haug, CSULB Dietetic Intern. OC Nutrition offers nutrition counseling services over the phone or in person in Newport Beach, Irvine, Orange, Anaheim Hills, Chino Hills and Long Beach. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact:

Kristy L. Richardson, MS, MPH, RD, CSSD, CHES
Registered Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist
(949) 933-6788

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