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Healthy Fats

By Ruchi Shah, MS, RD, CDN

One component of a heart healthy diet is healthy/good fats. When thinking of fats, we think of foods that are not good for us. In fact, about 20-35% of our calories should come from fat. There are good fats and bad fats. We should consume good fats, also known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. We should reduce consumption of bad fats, also known as trans-fats and saturated fats. These bad fats can cause many health problems such as obesity and heart disease. Good fats such as fish, olive oil, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds provide omega 3 fatty acids which provide many benefits of protection and prevention against diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Good fats also fight against inflammation of the body. If you have elevated LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), the recommendation is to add healthy fats to your diet. Good fats help increase HDL and fight against the LDL that has built up. Even when eating these healthy fats, make sure that you consume them in moderation. Eating lots of fat, even good fats, is not recommended.

What foods are considered good fats?

  • Olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil
  • Fish
  • Nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Hummus
  • Avocado
  • Seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Low fat mayonnaise

Increasing good fats in your diet is easy. There are lots of fun ways you can add these foods to your usual meals. For example, try this simple oatmeal recipe for breakfast:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of oats
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of peanut butter
  • ½ cup of blue berries
  • Cinnamon to taste

Preparation

  • Cook oats with water or low-fat dairy and chia seeds in the microwave or on the stove
  • Remove mixture from microwave or stove and place in bowl
  • Add peanut butter right away, melting it on top
  • Add blueberries and cinnamon on top

Ruchi Shah is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at rs2522@cornell.edu

 

 

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