How to Get More Good Fat From Your Diet

Avoiding fat to lose or maintain your weight? You’re doing it wrong. With cautions about the fat content in your diet, it’s easy to think the war against fat is raging. However, not all fats are created equal. Although there are some we want to avoid, other fats are essential to a well-balanced diet, and help us to absorb important fat-soluble vitamins to contribute to our overall well-being.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada. According to the Government of Canada, about 2.4 million Canadian adults — that’s one in 12 — over the age of 20 live with diagnosed heart disease. This is important to consider when remembering that one of the risk factors for heart disease is eating foods containing trans fat, which is typically found in baked goods, margarine and even microwaved popcorn. Consumption of saturated fats, found in many red meats, butter, cheese and other dairy foods, should also be limited.

Monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, are considered a beneficial fat, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke while also helping to manage your weight. Found in foods like olive oil, avocados and nuts like almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts, adding more of these foods to your diet will provide many health benefits.

Polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like walnuts, flax seeds and fish, are the other good fats you want to consider incorporating into your diet. Like monounsaturated fats, these fats also help with weight management by controlling blood sugar, while also helping to reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood, which can help to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which are essential fatty acids required for proper brain function and cell growth. Our bodies can’t produce these important fats, however, so we need to make sure we’re getting enough from our diet.

The good news is incorporating these types of good fats into your diet isn’t hard to do. Here are five ways.

1. Toss it in

Eating a salad a day is a great way to stay in tip-top shape! A big bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to ensure we are not only getting our daily servings of these important foods (which many of us have a hard time doing) but also of beneficial fibre, vitamins and minerals.

A big bowl of veggies might not leave you satisfied, however, and that’s often because the fats are missing. Fats help us to actually feel full — topping your salad with nuts, seeds and avocado is a great place to start. You can also make your own salad dressing with olive, flax or avocado oil, plus some vinegar, lemon and herbs. Finally, for a super omega-3 boost, top your salad with wild, grilled salmon.

2. Blend it

Did you know chia seeds contain more omega-3s than salmon when compared gram for gram? Fast-track your way to optimal health by tossing chia seeds into your next smoothie. Twenty-eight grams of chia seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch, giving you fibre, protein, omega-3s and 18 per cent of your recommended daily amount of calcium!

3. Get fishy

The debate over farmed versus wild salmon may have you sitting on the fence when it comes to eating salmon. To ease your conscience, it’s recommended you eat sustainably sourced salmon at least twice a week to benefit from its high levels of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA.

4. Wrap it

If you lead a go-go-go lifestyle, wraps are a great option. Tuck generous slices of avocado (with assorted vegetables) into a tortilla wrap to work monounsaturated fatty acids into your day. You’ll feel satiated, too: avocados contain oleic acid, a healthy fat that triggers a message to your brain telling it you’re full.

5. Swap it

You may currently be eating meals filled with trans or saturated fats that you could easily switch out for healthier monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Here are a few examples:

  • When cooking foods that require a high heat, use avocado, sesame or grapeseed oil instead of butter, margarine or lard.
  • Swap unhealthy snacks, such as cookies and chips, for nuts, seeds or avocado on healthy crackers.
  • Swap the Saturday night steak for omega-3-packed fish like salmon, lake trout or mackerel.

If you’re finding it difficult to incorporate these fatty foods into your meals, consider adding a supplement, either in the form of an oil or capsule, to your daily regimen to make sure you’re getting the healthy fats that are good for your body. You can find a variety of options available at your local CHFA Member health food store.