All foods contain fat, even carrots and lettuce contain a small amount, but some fats are healthier than others. Sure, fats provide plenty of calories per gram, but they can also be loaded with nutrients. In fact, some are described as “essential fats” and it’s important to include them in your diet.
No more than 35% of your daily calories should come from fat (about 70g for women or 90g for men). While most of us don’t exceed this threshold, we generally eat too many bad types of fat and not enough good ones.
Which fats are good for you?
- The Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Olive oil reduce blood pressure and total cholesterol. It does, however, contain 99 calories per tablespoon, so it should be used sparingly.
- Nuts are full of good fats, including short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that, eaten in moderation, they can reduce the risk of heart disease, and they make a great snack!
- fatty fish contains high levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered important for health but cannot be made by the body. This type of omega-3 is linked to brain development and joint function. Salmon, mackerel and sardines are good examples of healthy fatty fish.
Which fats should you avoid?
A maximum of 10% of your daily calorie needs should come from saturated fat (20g for women or 30g for men), but many of us exceed that figure. Saturated fats are found in cakes, cookies, cheese, butter, cream, coconut oil and fatty cuts of meat. Here are simple ways to reduce your saturated fat intake.
- Cut visible fat from meat or choose lean meats like turkey, chicken, and lean cuts of pork.
- Choose a more aged cheese to get all of its flavor while using less cheese, or choose lower-fat options.
- Use low-fat yogurts instead of cream or crème fraîche.
- Use liquid vegetable oils like olive, canola or sunflower oil, rather than butter, for cooking. It is better to measure the oil with a teaspoon than to pour it freely, because the oil remains high in calories.
- Use cooking methods that don’t require extra fat, such as steaming and microwaving, rather than frying.
Is coconut good for health?
The popularity of coconut products has skyrocketed in recent years. However, these products may not be the “super foods” they are claimed to be. Coconut oil contains 86% saturated fat, a higher percentage than butter (52%) and olive oil (14.3%).
Raw coconut may seem like a healthy snack, but it should be eaten in moderation due to its saturated fat content (36%). Coconut cream can be used as a vegan alternative to cream, but while it’s slightly lower in saturated fat than its dairy counterpart, it still contains significant amounts.
Always read the label
Check food labels for total fat and saturated fat content. Compare per 100g rather than per serving suggestion as serving sizes can vary widely. Foods with less than 3g total fat and 1.5g saturated fat per 100g are classified as low fat and low saturated fat respectively.
The health world is awash with buzzwords, and a food label that says “light”, “low fat”, “reduced”, “low fat”, or “reduced fat” does not mean not necessarily that the food is low in fat. Rather, they state that it contains 30% less fat than a similar product, but it may still contain an equal (or greater) amount of calories than its whole equivalent, since fat is often replaced by fat. sugar.
It’s time to face the fats and find out how much you really know about the good and bad fats in your food.