Little Bites of Nutrition - #4

Fats & Oils

Healthy fats can be your friend. There are different kinds of fats found in our food. Here is a quick breakdown:

Saturated Fats: These are solid at room temperature. They are shelf-stable, resistant to heat damage, and essential to many bodily functions.  When a fat is stable that means it doesn’t oxidize as quickly leading to inflammation and clogged arteries. They are found in animal products like meat, butter, & cream. It is also found in coconut oil. Where things go wrong for saturated fat is in hydrogenated oils. This process turns it into trans fats which come oxidized and that is what you do not want.

Polyunsaturated Fats: These are typically liquid at room temperature. They can be divided into two groups – omega-3 and omega-6. Both are important for heart health but omega-3s also help to reduce inflammation and are important for cognitive function. Fish oil is the best source of Omega 3 fat, but our bodies can make it from plants, like flaxseed also. Where polyunsaturated fats go wrong in when the Omega 6 is much higher than the Omega 3. These are found in industrialized seed oils like soybean, safflower, and canola. For healthy sources of polyunsaturated fats, you can find them in pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, pine nuts, and walnuts.

Monounsaturated Fats: These are also usually liquid at room temperature and are more stable than polyunsaturated. Health experts agree they’re the healthiest type as they help to lower total and LDL cholesterol but, unlike polyunsaturated, they also maintain levels of HDL or good cholesterol, making them a great choice for a healthy heart. The foods highest in this fat are olives, olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts, and the high oleic varieties of sunflower, canola, safflower oils.

Here is a great article going into detail of the benefits of monounsaturated fats.

Now for some practical ways to integrate this information. When you cook, cook with avocado oil, olive oil, or butter. For salad dressings, try to find ones made with olive oil or avocado oil. Have some olives, almonds or macadamia nuts for a small snack. By making these changes, you will reduce your exposure to the inflammation causing omega 6 fats and will be supporting your heart, brain and body.

Fat can be your friend.