Although many people worry about the amount of fat in their diet, they are forgetting that it’s just as important to focus on the type of fats you are eating. Here are some tips for choosing the best kind of fats for your body.
1. Eat more monounsaturated fats.
Include foods rich in monounsaturated fats in your diet such as nuts, vegetable oils, canola oil, olive oil, high oleic safflower oil, sunflower oil, and avocados.
2. Eat more polyunsaturated fats.
Eat more omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oils (soybean, canola), nuts (walnuts), seeds (flaxseed), and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines). Try to have at least two 4 oz. servings of fatty fish during the week. Nuts and seeds not only contain good fats, but also are a great source of protein. An ounce of dry-roasted nuts make for a great snack and will give you an energy boost during a long work day.
Don’t forget about omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in soybean oil, corn oil and safflower oil. Keep in mind, an ideal ratio of Omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 2-4:1 and the average American diet has a ratio of 14-25:1. Chances are you get plenty of omega-6 fatty acids in your diet so focus on including more omega-3s. This will decrease the amount of inflammation in your body and decrease your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease.
3. Eat saturated fat in moderation.
Saturated fat is found in many foods and is especially high in foods such as high-fat meats (poultry skin, bacon, sausage) and cheeses, butter, whole milk, cream, ice cream, and tropical oils (coconut, palm). When it comes to saturated fat, make sure it is coming from whole foods—not the processed stuff.
If you are trying to reduce your calorie intake, try replacing fatty meats with leaner cuts and whole or 2% fat dairy products with 1% or fat-free options.
Limit your saturated fat intake to less than 10% of your daily calories (recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines).
4. Ditch trans fats.
Trans fats are found in fried foods, shortening, stick margarine, packaged foods with hydrogenated oils, coffee creamer, savory snacks (microwave popcorn), frozen pizza and pie, ready-prepared cookies and cake, and ready-to-use frosting.
Keep in mind that products with less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving can by law be labeled as having 0g trans fats. But, be sure to check the ingredient label! “Hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” oils are types of trans fats to watch out for.
Choose foods with 0 grams of trans fats (recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines).
5. Don’t be afraid of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is found in animal products such as meats, egg yolk, whole milk, cheese, and seafood (i.e. shrimp, lobster, crab).
Cholesterol, it turns out, isn’t as bad for us as we previously thought. Past research is not well supported, and new research suggests that we focus on limiting trans fat in the foods we eat to control our cholesterol levels.
Limit your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day (recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines).
6. Change the way you cook with fats.
Oils that are liquid at room temperature are normally rich in good fats so replace solid fats with oils in cooking.
Use reduced-fat, whipped, or liquid spreads rather than butter or stick margarine. Be sure to check the nutrition facts label for trans fats!