Heart healthy diets are a lot easier to follow once you understand the different kinds of fats that are out there and what place they have in our diets. By choosing the right fats, you can keep your body and your heart healthy and energized.
The best fats are mono and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are found in plants like nuts, seeds and their oils and from foods like avocados. Think– peanuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflowers (and their butters) and olive and canola oils.Use these mono and polyunsaturated fats to replace saturated fat. Saturated fat is the devil for your heart. It will age you, make your body less efficient and inevitably suck the energy right out of you! Aim for less than 10% of your diet to come from these fats–think butter, full fat dairy products and fatty meats.
You may also be surprised that it’s not only animal fats like bacon and butter that contain saturated fat. Some plant oils like coconut and palm oil contain saturated fat. They’re used in cookies and treats that have a long shelf life. Although you may notice that these fats often replace trans-fats in some of our foods and manufacturers act like they are being so good to you to do this, truthfully saturated fats aren’t much better for you than the very terrible trans fat they are often replacing. For an energized and efficiently working body, aim to cut trans-fats out completely. They not only increase our LDL “bad” cholesterol but also lower our HDL “good” cholesterol. Trans-fats are created when healthy unsaturated fats, like vegetable oils, are hydrogenated to make them more stable like saturated fats (this means when a fat that is a liquid at room temperature is made into a solid). Manufacturers have eliminated trans-fats in many foods, but always look on labels and double check to make sure. Typically, packaged baked goods that stay soft for a long time have trans-fats, so avoid those hostess snacks! And if you see the word “hydrogenated” or “partially- hydrogenated” on your ingredient label, that means trans-fat is in that food!
Remember, fats do have a place in a healthy diet; just make sure that they are the right kinds of fat—Mono and polyunsaturated fats!