In the 1980’s, low-fat diets were shown to be the healthiest way to cut calories from fat and shed some pounds. Today, we know that some fat in your diet is actually healthy. Now, don’t stop reading and tell yourself that your French fries for lunch were good for you! There are good fats and bad fats. I can say, confidently, French fries do not fall into the good fats bucket.
There is a new buzzword, “anti-inflammatory food," which is a whole food or a real food. Fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, seeds and fatty fish are all considered anti-inflammatory foods. Of course you never go wrong by eating fruits and vegetables, but you can also add more healthy fats into your diet to be healthy. The type of fat I’m talking about is Monounsaturated Fat. This type of fat can reduce inflammation within your body, helping your hormones to function properly and reduce inflammation presenting itself in the form of heart disease, mental disorders, cancer or arthritis. Also, certain vitamins are only absorbed by the body if you have fat in your diet. Vitamins A, E, D and K are fat-soluble. Now that you know that some fat is essential, how will you determine if your food is the right type? The Nutrition Facts label on every packaged food tells you what is in that food and is a good place to start. Check out the fat breakdown when reading food labels in order of listing:
- Total Fat= the total amount of all types of fat in that food per serving. This only tells us there is some fat to help you absorb those fat-soluble vitamins.
- Saturated Fat= unhealthy fat that can lead to heart disease. Examples: Ribeye steak and ice cream
- Trans Fat= the worst fat that can lead to heart disease and cause extra weight gain on hips and abdomen. These are also listed as “hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients at the bottom of the food label. This type of fat sends your bad cholesterol(LDL) up, and your good cholesterol(HDL) down. Examples: stick margarine and pastries like cookies, cakes and doughnuts.
- Polyunsaturated Fat= healthy fat that may help reduce inflammation. Examples: walnuts and salmon
- Monounsaturated Fat= the best fat you can choose to reduce inflammation. When comparing poly to monounsaturated fat, aim for more mono. Examples: olive oil and cashews
Of course food labels can be confusing as some only list Total Fat and Saturated Fat and completely leave out the other types of fat. Also, if you forget to bring your glasses with you to the grocery store to read the 6 point font, you may have just set yourself up for healthy fat failure. No sweat! To ensure you are choosing the healthiest fat, choose from this list of foods which are highest in Monounsatured Fat:
|Type of food||Amount of Monounsaturated Fat|
|Avocados||14g per avocado|
|Olive oil||10g per Tablespoon|
|Nuts||approximately 8g per ounce|
|Natural peanut butter (containing just peanuts and salt)||6g per Tablespoon|
|Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds; flaxseed||approximately 6g per ounce|
|Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)||approximately 7g per 3 ounces|