Let’s talk about fat. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
We need some fat in our diet to promote proper heart function and help lower cholesterol, among numerous other benefits such as transporting certain vitamins like A, D, E, and K, and healthy looking hair and skin.
There are several different types of “fats” in our diet. It’s important to choose healthier unsaturated fats. Eating too much and the wrong kinds of fats, such as saturated and trans fats, may raise unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy HDL cholesterol. This imbalance can increase your risk of high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack and stroke.
These have been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels. They’re found in olive oil, avocados and some nuts such as almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts.
These fats can lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol). There are 2 types: Omega-3, which can help prevent clotting of blood, reducing the risk of stroke and also helps lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat linked to heart disease, and Omega-6, which helps lower LDL cholesterol, but in large amounts it’s thought to also lower the good HDL cholesterol. Eat it in moderation. The best sources of omega-3 fat are cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines, herring, rainbow trout and salmon, as well as canola and soybean oils, omega-3 eggs, flaxseed, walnuts, pecans and pine nuts. Omega-6 is found in safflower, sunflower and corn oils, and nuts such as almonds, pecans, brazil nuts and sunflower seeds. It is also in many prepared meals.
Foods high in saturated fat include fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, hard margarines, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil. Saturated fat consumed in high amounts can raise unhealthy LDL cholesterol.
Like saturated fat, trans fat raises unhealthy LDL cholesterol but also lowers healthy HDL cholesterol. Try to limit products that list vegetable oil shortening or partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients. Trans fat is found in partially hydrogenated margarines, deep-fried foods from fast-food outlets (fries, doughnuts), and many packaged crackers, cookies and commercially baked products.
-How much fat should you eat in a day?
Remember that since all fats are calorie-heavy, you’ll need to use even the healthier ones in moderation. A healthy eating pattern includes between 20% to 35% of your day’s calories from fat. For women, this works out to 45 to 75 grams of fat a day, and for men, 60 to 105 grams of fat a day. (For example, 15 mL (1 tbsp) of oil equals about 14 grams.)
Eat fish at least 2 times each week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best for your heart. These fish include tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.