Healthy Fats

I can clearly remember sitting in a Weight Watcher’s meeting years ago (Yes I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and learned many good things from their excellent program) and the group leader questioning us as to whether we had been eating our daily requirement of 2 teaspoons of oil?

Oil?  Somehow it disturbed my low fat brain mentality to actually choose to eat oil. Like me you have probably tried like crazy to avoid French fries, onion rings, potato chips, fried chicken etc. etc. Keep out the fat and keep from getting fat.  And now here they were trying to get me to include oil in my diet.

Yes a healthy diet does include healthy fats. In fact dietary fats increase absorption of nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K, and lutein, lycopene and beta carotene. We need to learn to choose healthy fats and avoid the fats that are associated with disease risk.

Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats, such as oleic acid, are found in olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Eating foods rich in these fats can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your cholesterol levels, according to, and they may also help with blood sugar control--a concern for diabetics.

Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. The three acids are docosahexaenoic, eicosapentaenoic and alpha-linolenic. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential because they are necessary for your health, but are not naturally produced by the body. They can only be obtained through diet and are important for brain and eye growth, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Salmon, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts are all sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to UMHS, have anti-inflammatory effects and may help prevent or treat depression, heart disease and cancer.

Omega-6 Fats
Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for brain function, normal growth and development. They stimulate skin and hair growth, help keep bones strong, regulate metabolism and are necessary for reproductive function. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in most vegetable oils and the average diet contains more than necessary. Consuming too much omega-6 fats may increase inflammation and pain.

Fats to Avoid
Eliminate trans fats from your diet and avoid most saturated fats. Trans fats are made from liquid vegetable oils that have been chemically altered to make them solid. Found in stick margarine, fried and processed foods, trans fats, according to the University of Michigan, raise your LDL cholesterol levels and lower your HDL cholesterol levels. LDL is the bad cholesterol that leads to heart disease while HDL is the good cholesterol that reduces your risk for heart disease.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in meats, dairy products, eggs and some tropical oils. The University of Michigan reports that saturated fats raise total and LDL cholesterol levels when consumed in large amounts.

So what is your challenge? To get an adeqequate amount of healthy fats in your diet. For every day that you include olives, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, salmon, sardines, flaxseed or walnuts in your diet you earn the 5 bonus points.

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