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There was a time when all fatty foods were considered “bad for you.” The term “low-fat” is now almost an expected description on a food label. What does “low-fat” mean on a food label? Is the product also “low-calorie” and healthy? How much fat do I need in my diet?
Here's the "skinny" on eating fats:
1. First, you need fats (one of the macronutrients) in your diet for your body to function properly. Get about 20 percent of total daily calories from fats. Eat as little or no trans fats or saturated fats as you can. Eating too many (and too often) trans fats and saturated fats will land you in the doctor's office with heart and cholesterol problems.
2. Focus mainly on eating heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower total cholesterol. Good sources of MUFAs are nuts (especially raw), nut butters, olives, olive oil, avocados, safflower oil, peanut oil and canola oil.
3. Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are also good for you---especially the omega-3 fats found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout and white tuna. Flaxseed and walnuts are also good sources of omega-3 fats. Eat more omega-3 fats and less omega 6 fats.
Too much omega 6 fat intake can lead to inflammation that causes arthritis, cancer and heart disease. Sources of omega-6 fats are soybean oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, corn oil, sesame oil and cottonseed oil. Conjugated linoleic acid(CLA) fats found in red meat and dairy are also good for you provided they come from grass-fed cattle. Another option would be to supplement your diet with fish oil.
4. Limit eating saturated fats. Some sources of saturated fats are beef, poultry, pork, dairy, lard, cocoa butter, coconut oil and palm oil. Moderation is the key to eating saturated fats. Dark chocolate has become popular for its disease-fighting antioxidant qualities. So, I guess it would be a good "cheat food" (but not too much!).
5. Severely limit trans fats. Manufacturers of food love trans fats because they extend the shelf-life of food products and make them taste great. You've heard me say this--"if it's fried, let it slide.