The truth is, we NEED fat in our diet. The key, however, is to consuming healthy sources of fat, and limiting sources of unhealthy fats such as saturated fat and trans fat. So you may be thinking, "okay, so what type of fats do I include?" The answer is healthy monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fats. Where are these sources? You'll find them in olive, flax and sesame oil; unsalted nuts and seeds; avocado and all-natural guacamole; nut butters such as peanut, almond, soy, sunflower, etc.; olives; fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel; and quality fish oil supplements. Use the following tips to include healthy fats in your diet today:
- Dress your own salad. Commercial salad dressings are often high in saturated fat, unhealthy chemicals, and made with inferior, overly-processed, damaged oils. Create your own dressings with high-quality, cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil or sesame oil and your favorite herbs.
- What’s better: butter or margarine? Both have good and bad points. With margarine, choose the soft-tub versions, and make sure the product has zero grams trans fats and no partially hydrogenated oils. Regardless of whether you choose butter or margarine, use it in moderation and avoid adding it to other foods. Olive oil is a healthier substitute.
- The meat of the matter. Beef, pork, lamb, and dairy products are high in saturated fat. Reduce your consumption of these foods. When you do eat them, choose low-fat milk and lower-fat cheeses like mozzerella whenever possible; try non-fat Greek yogurt such as Chobani or Brown Cow for a rich and creamy alternative. Go for lean cuts of meat, and stick to white meat, which has less saturated fat. You can also try dairy subsitutes such as unsweetened soy milk (I like the naturally-flavored vanilla variety), almond milk, or hemp milk.
- Don’t go no-fat, go good fat. If you are concerned about your weight or heart health, rather than avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing all the bad fats with good fats. This might mean replacing some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, and using vegetable oils rather than tropical oils, which tend to contain more saturated fats.
- Ask what type of oil your food is cooked in. When eating out, ask your server or counter person what type of oil they use in their cooking. If it’s partially-hydrogenated oil, run the other way. Otherwise, see if you can request your food to be prepared using olive oil, which most restaurants have in stock.
Alissa C. Robertson