Healthy Fat Talk

November 10, 2009

Yesterday I introduced you to the macronutrient fat and its functions in the body. Now that you know what fat does for you, it’s time to move on to what type of fat you should be eating.

About 30% of your calorie intake should be from dietary fat — so if you need 1800-2000 calories a day, 540-600 calories, or 60-67 grams, should be from fat. But you don’t want those calories to come from just any fat. It’s important to choose the healthiest type of fat, which is unsaturated fat.

Monounsaturated fat (MUFA) is one type of healthy, unsaturated fat that can be found in:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocado
  • Almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, and peanut butter

Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) is the other type of healthy, unsaturated fat that includes omega-3 fatty acids and can be found in:

  • Corn and safflower oils
  • Sunflower seeds and sunflower oil
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Soybeans and soybean oil
  • Seafood
  • Walnuts

Omega-3 fats are often talked about as a separate category even though they fall under PUFAs. They are the essential fatty acids that I mentioned yesterday, and can be found in cold water fish, including salmon, tuna, and sardines. The omega-3 fats that come from animal sources are preferred by the body, but other omega-3s found in plants, such as walnuts, flaxseed, dark green vegetables, and some oils, are also good sources.

These omega-3 fats have gotten a lot of media attention over the past few years because of their heart health benefits, including lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing blood clotting and inflammation, and lowering blood pressure.

Coming up: Less Healthy Fat Talk

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  1. I am a big fan of healthy fats and oils. They provide so much flavor as well as good nutrition. We use sesame oil on Asian salads, or mix with brown rice and top with sesame seeds.

    And avocados seem to work with so many dishes. With quesadillas or to granish soups.