Fat is important for our overall health. Fats tend to get a bad reputation, but not all fats are created equal. Some fats are important to keep our heart healthy while others should be limited.
There are four different types of fat.
- Monounsaturated fat
Monounsaturated fat is a healthy fat naturally found in olive and canola oil, non-hydrogenated margarines, avocados and nuts like almonds, pistachios, pecans and cashews.
- Polyunsaturated fat
Polyunsaturated fat are healthy fats that include omega-3 and omega-6 fats:
- Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, herring and sardines. Omega-3 fats are also added to eggs, milk products and some juices. Plant sources are flax seeds.
- Omega-6 fats are found in safflower, sunflower and corn oils. They are also found in nuts and seed such as almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
- Saturated fat
Saturated fat is an unhealthy fat that is naturally found in foods from animals such as fatty cuts of meat, poultry with the skin on and higher fat milk, cheese and yogurt. Saturated fat is also found in tropical oils, including coconut and palm kernel oils.
- Trans fat
Trans fat is an unhealthy fat. It is made out of liquid oil that is then changed into a solid fat. Trans fat adds texture and flavour to food. It is most often found in commercially baked goods, fried foods and processed foods like packaged salty snacks and convenience foods including frozen foods. Trans fat can also be found naturally in some foods. Meat, milk, and butter naturally contain small amounts of trans fat. The trans fat found naturally in foods is different than manufactured trans fat and does not increase your risk of heart disease.
To keep your heart healthy, have a small amount (2 to 3 Tbsp) of unsaturated fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat) each day. This amount includes oil used for cooking, salad dressings, margarine and mayonnaise.
Unsaturated vegetable oils include:
To lower your risk of heart disease, it is best to limit saturated fats. Limit foods like:
- Hard margarine
- Lard and shortening
- Higher fat milk, cheese and yogurt
- Fatty cuts of meat and chicken with the skin on