Good fats, bad fats, skinny fats, fat fats . . . There is a lot of talk about fats these days. Let’s break it down. For most people, about 30% of your total calories for the day should be from fat, this is considered a low-fat diet. Of that, 20% should come from the heart healthy fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated Fats – – Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol
- Sources :: Olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts & seeds, peanut butter, sesame oil
- Benefits ::
- Reduces cholesterol when used in place of saturated and trans fats
- Sources of monounsaturated fats also usually good source of vitamin E (antioxidant)
Lowers LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- Sources: Vegetable oils (safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed)
- Abundant in American diet – used in processed foods, salad dressings
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Best sources: Salmon, trout, tuna, sardines
- Plant sources: Flaxseed, wheat germ, canola oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
- Benefits ::
- Have been shown to reduce risk of heart disease
- Lowers triglycerides at certain doses
- May improve depression
- May ease joint pain
- Improves cognitive functioning
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3’s in the diet is 2 to 1 while the typical American diet is about a 15 to 1 ratio. Key message: decrease omega-6’s (found in many processed foods) and increase omega-3’s. In order to get the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, you would need to eat 2-3 servings of the fish sources listed above. If you’re taking a supplement, most people DO NOT need to supplement omega-6’s (or 9), just omega-3. The dose depends on what your goal is with supplementation, but quality is key with fish oil supplements – read the labels. If the label doesn’t show that EPA and DHA (two of the most beneficial types of omega-3’s) comprise most of the “fish oil” in the capsules, look for a different supplement.Hint: You’ll be paying a bit extra for EPA and DHA, but it’s worth it!If you need suggestions navigating supplementing fish oil, let me know!
Now for the bad:
Sources :: Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter), and coconut, palm and other tropical oils [Look for a post coming up about one of the newest fads – coconut oil]
- Increases risk of heart disease by increasing total and LDL cholesterol
- Aim for no more than 15-22 grams per day (7-10% of total daily calories)
Chemical process which changes a fat from a liquid (unsaturated fat) to a solid (saturated fat) that increases the shelf-life of products.
Sources :: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (such as doughnuts and french fries), shortening and margarine
- Increases total and LDL cholesterol
- Aim to consume no trans-fat!
GORP aka Trail Mix
Makes 4 servings
- 1/2 cup whole almonds, unsalted
- 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped pitted dates
- 1 1/2 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
Nutrition Stats (Per serving): 209 calories; 15g fat (2 g sat, 6 g mono, 5gm poly); 0 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrates; 12 g sugar; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber; 4 mg sodium; 190 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamins E and C, antioxidants
Homemade trail mix is an easy snack and it’s much better for you than store-bought. Store-bought trail mixes are always high in sodium and usually have M&M’s as opposed to dark chocolate. But because of the nuts in this recipe, it is a higher calorie snack, so watch your portions!