Which Fats Should I Eat?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Question: Which Fats Should I Eat?

If we're supposed to limit our intake of saturated fats like butter and meat, and eliminate artificial trans fats, which fats should we eat?

Answer: There are two classes of "good for you" fats: polyunsaturated fats, which include the much-touted essential fatty acids, which, in general terms, our bodies need but can't manufacture, and monounsaturated fats. Both types of unsaturated fats are thought to mitigate some of the harmful effects associated with saturated fats and trans fats.

Now a fat gram is worth nine calories whatever its source, so don't be misled into thinking that you can enjoy unlimited quantities of heart-healthy fats. Too much fat will lead to weight gain and put you at risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.

Keep your intake of fat limited to 30 percent of calories, with no more than 7-10 percent of total calories coming from saturated fat.

Here are some good choices of unsaturated fats:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Tuna
  • Canola oil
  • Soybeans
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Flax seeds
  • Flax seed oil
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter (without added hydrogenated oils or sugar)
  • Tub margarine/spreads (with 0g trans fats)
  • Olives
  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
So mostly we're talking fatty fish, nuts and seeds in terms of foods, and liquid vegetable oils for cooking. With cooking oils, try to buy the least processed/refined oils you can afford, and still use them sparingly. Plus, be aware that when you see an oil - particularly soybean oil -listed in processed foods, make sure the word hydrogenated doesn't precede it.

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