February brings Groundhog Day (Phil saw his shadow…looks like another 6 weeks of winter), Valentine’s Day, and the celebration of Heart Health Month!  A heart-healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, and healthy fats.

A couple decades ago (and possibly still today!), the fear of fats was real.  “Eating fat makes you fat,” is definitely a myth that needs to be busted.  Fat is essential for our bodies – it is actually recommended that most individuals consume 20-35% of their daily calories from sources of fat.  However, all fats aren’t created equally.  Type of fat is important when making your food selections.  Let’s break it down:

The Good – Unsaturated Fats

  • Includes both mono- and poly-unsaturated fats
  • Provides essential fatty acids that cannot be made by the body
  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • Helps lower bad cholesterol & triglyceride levels
  • Foods to INCLUDE: olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon, tuna, plant-based liquid oils

The Bad – Saturated Fats

  • Causes inflammation
  • Raises bad cholesterol & lowers good cholesterol
  • Increases risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Foods to LIMIT: animal products including meat (beef, pork, chicken fat) or full-fat dairy (whole milk, cheese), butter, or tropical oils

The Ugly – Trans Fats

  • Raises bad cholesterol & lowers good cholesterol
  • Increases risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
  • Foods to AVOID: processed foods, fried foods, stick margarine, baked goods, or “partially hydrogenated oils”

 

Recommendations?

  1. Incorporate whole food fats and plant sources of fats into your diet daily
    • Breakfast – add extra nuts or seeds to yogurt & oatmeal or place sliced avocado on your eggs or toast
    • Lunch – drizzle your salad, sandwich, or soup with olive oil or top a salad with olives and nuts or seeds
    • Snacks – partner almond or peanut butters with fruit or veggies
    • Dinner – bake salmon or tuna as your main dish
  2. Choose olive oil to cook and bake with
  3. Limit sources of saturated fats and sugar from processed products

 

Take home message… fats should not be feared!  They are necessary for absorption of fat soluble vitamins plus, they have great satiating qualities!  Add some healthy fats into your diet today and celebrate your new heart-healthy lifestyle this February!