Sunday, October 13, 2019

What are the good fats?

Last week we talked about the fats that are not so good for your health – the saturated fats.  But what are the good fats?  Fats we can enjoy eating and not worry about heart health?  Yes, there are a lot of heart healthy fats.  How do you know how to choose the fats that are good for your heart?

What are the heart healthy fats?

 1. Unsaturated fats – the “good” fats, the heart healthy fats are unsaturated and usually liquid at room temperature.  These fats don’t clog your arteries.  The “bad” fats for our health are saturated fats and usually solid at room temperature.  The vegetable oils are usually liquid at room temperature while the saturated fats like bacon grease become solid at room temperature.  Unsaturated fats not only help lower blood cholesterol; they also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
a.       Oils – what oils are considered good for your heart?
                                                               i.   Olive oil – a healthy choice.  Olive oil is part of the Mediterranean Diet which is an overall healthy eating pattern to follow and a diet that promotes heart health.  Adding more olive oil to your day can decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.   Cooking vegetables with Extra Virgin Olive Oil actually promotes absorption of more of the healthy compounds in the olive oil. 
                                                             ii.      Canola oil – A heart healthy choice for cooking and in salad dressings.
                                                           iii.      Sunflower oil, safflower oil – these oils are better for cooking at higher temperatures.  Some studies have shown these types of oils are even better at lowering the bad or LDL cholesterol in the blood.  So, using these oils in the kitchen is a heart-healthy choice.
b.       Omega-3 fats – watch TV and you will see a lot of commercials about omega-3 fats.  Unfortunately, most are for some supplement and not real food.  To get heart healthy omega-3 fats think fish and include salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, the delicious lake trout and mackerel. 
c.       Nuts – especially walnuts are heart healthy.  And walnuts provide the heart healthy omega-3 fats.  Sprinkle some chopped walnuts are your cereal or on a salad to boost your heart health.  Add some walnuts to cookies, muffins when you are baking.
d.       Seeds – you will hear people into health talking about eating flax seeds or chia seeds.  Some sprinkle these seeds on their cereal, some add the seeds to smoothies.  Heart healthy breads like Dave’s Killer “Epic Everything” bread includes flax, chia, sesame and poppy seeds.   
This bread contains a lot of healthy seeds that are good for your heart.
 e.       Eggs – eggs used to be the “bad guys” because they have cholesterol.  But the American Heart Association has lightened up on eggs and says we can enjoy some eggs each week.   You can buy eggs that are from chickens given feed containing omega-3 fats and thus the eggs are higher in omega-3 fats.  Look for “omega-3” on the egg package.  We buy Eggland’s Best eggs which have the omega-3 fats.  
Eggland's Best eggs provide healthy omega 3 fats
f.        Avocadosnot only are avocados a good source of unsaturated fats, they also provide the mineral potassium (also good for heart health), fiber and many vitamins like folate, B-6, C and E. 
g.       Peanut butter – nuts are heart healthy as is the food made from nuts like peanut butter.  If you buy the natural kind with the oil separated on top, mix it in rather than pour off the oil.  You want the oil mixed in as the oil is heart healthy.  If your kids only like the peanut butter with some sugar added, fine.  As long as you get some peanut butter in them, it is heart healthy.

2. Replace the saturated, “bad” fats with heart-healthy “good” fats.  One doesn’t want to cut out all fat in their diet or replace the “bad” fats with foods high in added sugar or other refined carbs.  In fact, a healthy diet has about 20-35% of calories coming from fat.  Those wanting to lose weight can aim for the 20% fat calories in their diets.  Athletes, or those in occupations that burn a lot of calories will want to be at the higher end and take in about 35% of their calories as fat.  And even the heart association allows for 10% of calories to come from saturated fats.  Which is great as who doesn’t enjoy a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich or bacon and eggs for breakfast?

Don’t shy away from fats in your diet.  We have a variety of oils in our pantry including Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and sunflower oil.  In our fridge we have Smart Balance margarine which is made from vegetable oils including olive oil and canola oil.  We also have peanut butter, mixed nuts and usually some chopped walnuts to sprinkle on our cereal.  Or, we enjoy peanut M&M’s.  A fun way to add some nuts to one’s day.  How can you add some heart healthy fats to your day?  Perhaps try a Chocolate Banana Smoothie, recipe below.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie Recipe
  • 1 cup fat-free chocolate milk (real milk is the best milk)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a blender or a food processor. Blend until smooth.
Nutrition Information:  Calories:  330   Total Fat 13 grams, saturated fat 2.5 grams.  Sodium 180 mg, Total carbs 44 grams, dietary fiber 4 gram and protein 15 grams.

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