For years, the dietary message was to eat less fat. That message caused a proliferation of low-fat and fat-free foods on the market and a subsequent stampede of consumers purchasing and eating those foods. Many food manufacturers substituted sugar and other carbohydrates for the fat, however, so the result was that we didn’t lose weight and we didn’t have healthier hearts. Now we know that it is not the amount of fat, but rather the types of fat, that make a difference when it comes to caring for our health.
We still cannot completely ignore how much fat we eat, even if the fats are more nutritious, since fats are a rich source of calories. Fortunately, one benefit of eating fats is that they do help us feel satisfied, since they carry flavors in foods and slow down digestion. This benefit can help us to control the portions of fats that we do eat.
Foods that are fats or a source of fats that have Guiding Stars include those high in monounsaturated fats and or omega-3 fatty acids such as:
- brazil nuts
- pine nuts
- chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds
- canola, flaxseed and olive oils
Replacing solid fats in our diets with fats from the list above can lower our risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some of these foods also provide benefits related to bone health, prevention of certain types of cancer and an improved ability to think and learn. The trick is to replace – eat more fish in place of some meats and poultry. Use liquid oils in place of solid fats such as butter, lard, shortening and stick margarine. Enjoy these foods in your cooking and in your daily diet for their flavor and nutritional boost!