Pathways to Wellness

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Fast facts about fat

A healthy diet includes fat, about 2-3 tablespoons per day.  Fats contain essential fatty acids, provide energy and help our bodies absorb vitamins A, D, and E.

But not all fats are equal – some are healthier than others, and some should be avoided whenever possible. 

The good.  Unsaturated fats are good for you in small amounts.  Vegetable oils (like corn, canola and olive), some fish (including salmon), some nuts (like walnuts, almonds and peanuts) and some seeds (like flaxseed and sunflower seeds) have a high percentage of unsaturated fats.

The bad.  The fats found in red meats and dairy products are less healthy.  Eating red meat sometimes, lean meats (like chicken and turkey) more often, and low fat dairy produces (like 1% milk or yogurt) can help you keep saturated fats to a healthy level.

The ugly.  Trans fats are rarely found in nature, and are usually produced by a manufacturing process called “partial hydrogenation.”  Many semi-solid margarines and commercially made baked goods contain trans fats.  A tell-tale sign of trans fats is the “melt in your mouth” feeling. 

In general, unsaturated fats lower the risk of heart disease, and saturated and trans fats increase the risk.  To manage the risk, choose foods that are higher in unsaturated fats and lower in saturated or trans fats.  Run the other way when you see “partially hydrogenated” fats in the ingredient list!

In the example below, popcorn A is a better choice because it has less fat overall, less saturated fat, and no trans fats.

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