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Hyperlipidemia

Hypertension & Nutrition

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Healthy Fat Sources and Portions

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
3
March 15, 2022

People often hear about “healthy fats,” and they’re told that they should eat more. But what, exactly is healthy? Is it everything from plants? What about chocolate or coconut? While everyone wonders what’s the healthiest fats for them, there are some that are better than others. Read on to know what fats are the best for you, and how much you should eat.

There are two main types of healthy fats. Scientifically, they are named as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. And while they’re both good for you, polyunsaturated fats have had the best blood cholesterol results. Eat a little of both of these groups throughout the day.

Monounsaturated fats

What they are:

These fatty strings are kinked in one spot, and called Omega 7, Omega 9. There are plenty of plants and plant oils that have these:

  • Nuts and Seeds: olives, avocados,  almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sesame seeds
  • Oils: olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil
  • Vegetables: Kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, blue-green algae

While eating them is not bad, you should keep your intake of these to approximately 5 servings per week.

What they do:

  • Raise the good cholesterol (⇧ HDL)
  • Raise the bad cholesterol (⇧ LDL)
  • Lower free fatty acids in the blood (⇩ Triglycerides)
  • Lower your total cholesterol levels

Polyunsaturated fats

What they are

These types of fatty molecule chains are known as Omega-3, and Omega-6 fatty acids, because they have kinks in multiple spots in their molecules.

You can find these types of fats in:

  • Nuts and seeds: flax seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, hemp, and chia seeds
  • Oils: sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, flax oil, fish oil
  • Seafood: Salmon, tuna, halibut, oysters

These types of fats are very good for you, and you should aim to eat a little of these at least daily. Specifically, the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends:

  • Eat Polyunsaturated fats from plant sources daily
  • Eat seafood rich in these 3 times per week or more
  • Eat 13-19g per day, or about 5-10% of total calories

What they do

  • Raise the good cholesterol (⇧ HDL)
  • Lower the bad cholesterol (⇩ LDL)
  • Lower free fatty acids in the blood (⇩ Triglycerides)
  • Lower total cholesterol (⇩ Total Cholesterol)

While eating healthy fats is a great idea for our overall health, we must understand that our health can only be improved if we remove some of the unhealthy items that cause our worsen our heart health in the first place. Aim to eat clean, without added butter, cream, cream cheese, margarine, or lard. Use avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and healthy oils instead. Also stay away from processed meats, as well as other processed snacks and pastries since they’re usually high in added fats, and may contain unhealthy trans fats. Instead eat snacks and proteins that are healthful, like guacamole, nuts and seeds, and seafood.

Takeaways

While eating healthy fats is a great idea for our overall health, our heart health only gets better when we remove some of the unhealthy items from our diet at the same time. A great way to start this is to think about each meal separately, and remove the unhealthy fats one-by-one. Add some polyunsaturated fat to every breakfast, monounsaturated fat to every lunch, and also a polyunsaturated fat or healthy fish to every dinner. Make changes to your diet slowly, tackling one change per week. Talk to your Dietitian or Health Coach if you need some help or motivation to make the switch.