Heart Healthy Diet Tip #3

Replace “Bad” Fats with “Good” Fats

Fat has gotten a bad reputation but it is not all bad. Fat is important for healthy skin and brain function and also helps with the absorption of some vitamins such as vitamin A, D, and E. Fat can also help you feel fuller longer. In order to replace your bad fats with good fats it is important to know the difference between the different types of fats and why some kinds of fats are good and others are bad.

Bad Fats – Saturated and Trans Fats

Saturated and trans fats are known to increase LDL cholesterol levels in your blood which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Saturated fat occurs naturally, mostly in animal products such as meat, butter, and cheese. Trans fat does occur naturally in very small amounts but most of the trans fat we consume today is artificially made through a process where hydrogen is added into vegetable oil to make it last longer. The end result is called “partially hydrogenated oil.” You can find this ingredient in many commercially baked goods, fried items such as potato chips or french fries, microwave popcorn, some margarines. Trans fat is even worse than saturated fat because not only does it increase your LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) it also decreases your HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). Check your labels and try to avoid anything that contains partially hydrogenated oil.

Tip: If a fat is solid at room temperature, it most likely is full of “bad” fats.

Good Fats – Unsaturated Fats such as Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

Both mono and polyunsaturated fats can actually help reduce your cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that are essential in the diet and you can actually develop a deficiency if you do not consume these fats. Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease elevated triglyceride levels and lower levels of inflammation, both important for cardiovascular health. Sources of “Good” fats include nuts, oils such as olive and canola oil, avocados, and fish.

So how do I replace “bad” fats with “good” fats?

Here are a few easy practical ways:

1. Use oils such as olive or canola oil instead of butter or margarine when cooking.

2. Add a slice of avocado to your sandwich instead of butter.

3. Choose lean meats and cut off or drain any visible fat.

4. Eat fish twice a week.

5. Pack an ounce of mixed nuts for a snack instead of getting candy or other junk food from the vending machine.

6. Check your food labels for partially hydrogenated oils and avoid!

Here are a few recipes full of “good” fats:

If plain nuts are too boring for you check out this recipe for Rosemary Roasted Almonds

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/rosemary-roasted-almonds

Avocados as a pasta sauce really intrigues me and I think I will have to try this recipe…using a whole grain pasta of course :)

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes/creamy-guilt-free-avocado-pasta-sauce

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