Fats are confusing. How much fat in the diet is too much? How much is too little? What kinds of fats are heart healthy?
Most of us know fat contains twice the calories as protein and carbohydrates whether it is saturated butter or bacon fat or heart healthy oils and avocado fat. But fat in the diet provides flavor and satiety. It is important for healthy skins, nails and hair, helps cushion vital organs and dietary fats help maintain body temperature and cell integrity.
Without counting fat grams or worrying about getting the American Heart Association and American Dietetic Association recommended “30% total fat” in the diet, I encourage my clients to eat lean and to eat low fat as often as possible using these simple 7 tips:
1. Look for low fat foods- those containing less than 3 grams/fat per serving on the Food Facts Labels.
2. Keep Saturated Fat levels less than 1/3 that of Total Fat. For Example: If Total Fat on a Foods Facts Label is 9 gm, Saturated Fat should be less than 3 gms/serving and consume foods with zero trans fat.
3. Non fat processed foods may contain more sugar versus low fat foods. specifically nonfat cookies or nonfat yogurts. I encourage consumption of low fat foods for taste and satiety over many non fat versions
4. Cook and prepare foods with heart healthy fats such as safflower oil, canola oil and olive oil.
5. Fats in the form of heart healthy monounsaturated fat help raise levels of protective HDL cholesterol. Some of the foods that are a good source for monounsaturated fat are the almond, walnuts and the avocado.
6. Stick to lean meats: chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef: “loin” and “round” cuts, pork and plenty of fish and sea food.
7. Keep added fats to a minimum such as salad dressings, sauces and spreads. Try spray dressings or order dressings on the side when eating out. Choose or make dressings with heart healthy oils.