Despite the bad reputation, some fats offer health benefits

By Kelsey Lawrence, dietetic intern

Adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Fat is a nutrient necessary for your health. However, they often get a bad rap.

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Like any food in our diet, making the right choice when picking fats can make all the difference. Adding healthy fats to your diet can offer health-protective benefits. Consider adding these fats — in moderation — to your diet.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids that may help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health.

Where can you find Omega-3s?

  • Fatty fish: Include fish in your meals at least twice a week. Fish high in omega-3 fats are salmon, albacore tuna (fresh and canned), sardines, lake trout and mackerel.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in Vitamin D and an excellent plant-based source of omega-3. Add walnuts to cereal, salads, or muffins.
  • Canola oil: Replace solid fats like butter or margarine with canola oil when cooking or baking. It works well for sautéing and stir-frying, as well.
  • Flaxseed: Add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereal, yogurt, and baked goods like breads and muffins or mixed dishes.
  • Eggs: Some chickens are given feed that is high in omega-3s so their eggs contain more as well. When buying eggs, check the package label.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.

Where can you find monounsaturated fats?

  • Nuts: In addition to heart-healthy fats, nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. One portion of nuts is equal to one ounce or 1/3 cup and provides approximately 160 to 180 calories.
  • Olive oil: Use olive oil in place of saturated fat, such as butter. Use it in salad dressing or to sauté vegetables, seafood, poultry, and meat.
  • Avocado: Avocados not only contain monounsaturated fat, but they are also packed with folate, Vitamins E, C, and B6, potassium and fiber. Try adding avocado to salad, pizza, soup, salsa, eggs and sandwiches.
  • Peanut butter: Nearly half the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat. Resist the urge to pour off of the heart-healthy oil that’s separated out of natural peanut butter.

Recipe: Grilled Fish and Salsa
Modified from Low Carb Recipes. Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds salmon
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • ½ onion, medium, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, black, ground
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, fresh chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, fresh, finely minced

Directions:

  1. Chop all vegetables and herbs and combine in small bowl. Add lime juice and stir together. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat an outdoor or indoor grill pan to medium heat. Pat salmon dry with paper towel. Spray tops with cooking spray.
  3. Place salmon on grill and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove from grill, top with salsa and serve.

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 300 calories, 13 grams of fat, 39 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 350 miligrams of sodium

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