Quick tips to choosing healthier fats
Choosing foods with healthy fats is an important part of everyone’s diet. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. What are saturated fats and where are they found?
Saturated fats are found in animal products. Most people remember the beef, pork, lamb, eggs and processed fatty meats like sausage and bacon, but often forgotten are dairy products- milk, cheese, sour cream, cheese and cream cheese, yogurt, butter and solid fats. Saturated fats are known to increase LDL (low density lipoproteins) that can increase your risk for developing heart disease. Tips below can help you improve the type of fat in your diet and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Use liquid plant oils for cooking and baking
Plant based oils such as olive and canola oil are rich in heart healthy unsaturated fats. Try dressing up a salad or roasted vegetables with an olive-oil based vinaigrette.
Ditch the Trans Fat
When grocery shopping, reading food labels will help you find foods that are trans fat free. Look for the “0” under total fat, and read the ingredient label for the words “partially hydrogenated oil”. Most manufacturers have removed trans fats from their products due to a law from 2006 requiring them to list the trans fats on their food labels. There are still food products in markets where trans fats are used to enhance food flavor, so vigilance is still needed to keep your intake of trans fats close to zero each day. In restaurants that don’t provide nutritional labeling, it is best to avoid fried foods, biscuits, and baked goods and desserts. Many restaurants are attempting to provide this information to their patrons, but it best to steer clear unless you know that the restaurant has eliminated trans fats from their inventory.
Switch from Butter to soft-tub margarine
Choose a product that has zero grams of trans fat and read the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t have partially hydrogenated oils. Use a plant based oil whenever possible; refrigerated extra-virgin olive oil makes a great spread for toast!
Eat at least one good source of Omega-3 fats each day
Current research shows that omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease and may also help depression, diabetes and other chronic conditions. These healthy fats are being added to everything from eggs to peanut butter. You can also get them naturally in salmon or tuna, or from fresh, oily fish. The fatty fish, walnuts and canola oil all provide omega-3 acids, essential fats that our body cannot make.
Cut back on red meat, cheese, whole milk and ice cream
Red meats (beef, pork and lamb) and whole fat dairy products are high in saturated fat. Eating less red meat, especially processed red meat such as bacon, and choosing fish, chicken, nuts or beans is an important change to make to reduce the risk of heart disease. If you do choose to eat red meat, choose lean cuts and keep the portions in control. Low fat and reduced fat cheeses are available, but they’re not always so low in fat, and they are often higher in sodium. If choosing cheese, select the one you like, watch the portion and savor the flavor. Low fat or non-fat dairy- milk and yogurt, is better than whole fat choices, and depending on the amount you consume, it might not make a difference.
As you choose foods with healthy fats, and limit the saturated and trans fats in your diet, remember to not replace the saturated fats with refined carbohydrate foods as these can cause weight gain and will not protect your heart, and may increase your risk of developing heart disease.