Day 20: The lowdown on healthy fats

Fat in your diet should not be avoided. You read that right. There are foods that contain healthy fats. You want to make sure to get enough of these types of fat in your day to day diet.

Today we will go over what is considered a healthy fat, what is the difference between good fat and bad fat, how to add more into your diet and ideas for foods that contains the healthy fats. It is a big lesson, so let’s get going.

Why you should eat good fats

You’ll want to eat good fat and here is why – it helps with your cholesterol by lowering the LDL which is bad for you and raises the good HDL amounts. That isn’t the only health benefit either. You’ll keep plaque from building up in the arteries.

While you won’t be able to see those benefits you will notice the belly bulge is disappearing because it also helps prevent or reduce fat from collecting in your belly.

Other ways good fat helps is by your improving mood, giving you energy, and it aids in absorbing essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. Adding healthy fat to your diet is a key component to being healthy and staying out of the doctor’s office. Studies have shown you’ll be less likely to get diabetes, high cholesterol and some forms of cancer if you eat more good fats.\

almonds, nuts, healthy fats
Photo: HealthAliciousNess on Flickr

Two types of healthy fat to eat every single day

Polyunsaturated fats this type helps lower LDL, boost functioning of the brain and may improve your mood. This fat is also known as the Omega fatty acids. You’ll find them in fatty fish and flaxseed oil.

Monosaturated fats help keep your heart healthy; it raises good cholesterol and then lowers bad cholesterol. You’ll find this type in certain oils, nuts and seeds.

Bad fat is just the opposite and causes many health issues faced today. There are many diseases that you risk getting when you eat bad fat – diabetes, some forms of cancer, and heart disease.

Simply put it is not good for you and should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately all those bad fats come in the form of cookies, cakes, crackers and chips – all the good tasting foods people love.

Just as there are two types of healthy fat, there are also two types of bad fat.

Two types of bad fat to avoid

Saturated fat has been related to increasing your bad cholesterol and lowering your good. You’ll find them in cuts of meat that contain more fat like beef. They are also in dairy that contains a lot of fat – think sour cream and whole milk.

The other bad fat is trans Fat. It not only lowers your good cholesterol levels, but it raises the bad. Trans fat is fat that is partially hydrated. How can you tell if it is trans-fat? Leave the fat on the counter when it is oil and if it hardens you’ll know it is trans-fat. You’ll find trans-fat in fried foods, baked goods and snack items.

Sources of fat

Switching from bad fat to healthy fat is a matter of being able to determine the difference between the two. Below gives you a small list of foods in each category.

List of healthy fats food

Nuts – walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazilian, pecan, pine nuts, almonds, cashews
Seeds – pumpkin seeds
Oils – olive oil, canola oil
Fish – herring, salmon,
Avocado
Olives

olives, healthy fats
Photo: Neil Barnwell on Flickr

List of bad fat food

Deep fried foods – French fries, corn dogs
Baked goods – cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, biscuits, pastries
Snack items – chips, microwave popcorn, ice cream,
Frozen food – waffles, fries, pizza, lasagna
Butter – margarine, lard, vegetable oil, vegetable shortening
Fatty meat – beef, dark chicken meat, chicken skin
Fast food and takeout food

You might notice a pattern. Most of the healthy fats are from the earth – like nuts and fish. Whereas bad fats are convenient food that has been already packed like – frozen dinners, quick snacks and fast foods.

Try to limit the pre-made and get more of the food that the earth produces. You don’t have to eliminate everything. Be more aware of what you put in your body.

Steps to add more healthy fats into your diet

Now you’ll learn how to add more into your diet without feeling like you are being forced into changing. Small changes will help – so here are a few you can work on immediately:

  • Change to seed oils – Instead of using the vegetable oil that you grew up with – give seed oils a try. You can find olive oil, avocado oil, hemp oil, grape seed oil and canola oil in your grocery store. They even have olive oil that is mixed with other herbs and spices – like lemon and orange or garlic. Use a variety of different types for your meals. You’ll soon discover which ones you like and that taste good. This is especially true if you start buying the ones mixed with herbs.
  • Replace your salad dressing with olive oil and vinegar. You can find recipes that you’ll enjoy. When you go into a restaurant ask for these ingredients to make your own.
  • Sprinkle olive oil on your vegetables when you are roasting them.
  • Use chia seeds or flax seed while cooking Chia seeds and flax seeds contain fatty acids and are easily added to your diet. Flax comes in seeds or ground mill. It has a mild nutty taste. They are easy to use in your day to day diet. You can put them in your meat mixtures as you cook, add them to your smoothies or sprinkle it on top of your oatmeal.

Replacing healthy fat will take time and effort. Do it slowly and it’ll get done. Today you’ve discovered what healthy fat is. Go through your pantry and see where you can take away a few bad fats and add some healthy into your life.