Healthy Bandwagon–Deciphering Between Healthy and Unhealthy Fats
Ever wonder what the difference is between healthy and unhealthy fat? Perhaps a quick explanation will clear up any confusion and increase your priority for watching what type of fat goes into your body. The difference lies in the structure, thus our bodies utilize the two differently. Saturated fats and trans fats, the unhealthy type, have been shown to increase cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of arterial damage. Healthy fats, or unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, actually make up part of our cells so they are essential for structure and several processes including absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. These healthy fats also enhance the texture and quality of your skin–think “healthy glow!” Plus they are rich sources of Omega-3 fats.
In general: healthy fats are more common in plant-based foods while unhealthy fats are more commonly found in animal products. So a good rule of thumb is to increase your intake of plant-based foods. Decrease your intake of high-fat animal products, such as fatty red meats and cheese by choosing lean protein sources or including more vegetarian sources such as bean, tofu and nuts. The best advice for trans fats is to avoid them altogether. Trans fats are found in products that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and shortening. If you see any of these three fats on the ingredient label, avoid this product! Omega-3 fats are a type of healthy fat our bodies cannot make so we must obtain these from the diet. Omega-3 fats have been found to reduce inflammation, and improve vascular health and heart rhythms, which is why there is such media attention surrounding these. Good sources are abundant in canola and olive oil, chia and flax seeds, salmon, sardines and anchovies, avocados, almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and vegetable oils such as sesame, sunflower and soybean.
So don’t be afraid of fat, just choose themwisely. The American Heart Association recommends less than 7% of your total intake come from saturated fats but total fat intake should still be between 25-35% of total intake. Replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates is not the answer; your body needs the healthy fat.
An easy and tasty way to make this swap is to ditch the mayonnaise and butter and spread your sandwich with avocado or hummus. Give this recipe a try!
Avocado and Hummus Sandwich
Yield: 1 serving
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
2-4 Tb Hummus
½ avocado, mashed
Fresh tomato, sliced
Fresh spinach leaves
Pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder (optional)
Directions: Toast the bread and pile on the veggies!