Oral Care and Health Daily

5 Fats to Eat Every Day

Want to stay fit? Eat more fat. The right kind will amp up your energy and make you feel fuller long...

We like carbs for energy, and proteins for strength. But when it comes to fats, we are wary -- we’ve heard they cause everything from obesity to heart disease. As a result, skipping fat altogether to lose weight can seem like a good idea.

In reality, fat is crucial for our health, our energy and our well-being. Without it, important vitamins from other foods such as fruits and vegetables cannot be absorbed. The key is knowing which fats to eat and which to avoid.

Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
Of the four major types of fat, two are dangerous: trans fats and saturated fats. Trans fats are found in many processed foods, labeled as “hydrogenated” in ingredients lists. Saturated fats are found in red meats, bacon, cheese and butter. Both of these fats raise your blood cholesterol and your risk for heart disease.

Good fats, on the other hand, help lower your cholesterol levels. There are two types of good fat:

  1. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs): These stay liquid at room temperature, but start to solidify when refrigerated, and include canola and olive oil. Aside from their cholesterol-lowering properties, they have also been linked with improved blood clotting and healthier levels of insulin.
  2. Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs): These stay liquid at room temperature and in the refrigerator, and include vegetable oils like corn oil. One recent study even found that eating these fats may reduce your risk of gum disease by as much as 30 percent!

Here are the best sources of MUFAs and PUFAs that you can start including in your daily diet right now:

Good Fat No. 1: Fish

  • Type of fat: Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of PUFA
  • Why you need it: It’s widely touted for preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure and reducing depression, says Evelyn Tribole, a registered dietitian and the author of The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet.
  • How to eat it: “Every form of fish has some omega-3, but the fatty fish like salmon, halibut, tuna fish and anchovies are best.” Can’t stand fish? Try baking it in plenty of lemon juice or sauce to spice up the flavor. Taking fish oil instead of eating fish can help as well.

Good Fat No. 2: Avocado

  • Type of fat: MUFAs and PUFAs
  • Why you need it: Aside from their heart-healthy cholesterol-lowering fats, avocados are rich in vitamin K, folate and potassium, a mineral that can help lower blood pressure.
  • How to eat it: Look for it beyond Super Bowl season. Toss slices in a salad, and eat up to half an avocado a day. (Two to three thin slices of avocado add 50 calories.)

Good Fat No. 3: Olive Oil

  • Type of fat: MUFAs
  • Why you need it: Besides boosting heart health, it may even have a role in suppressing appetite. A recent study found that oleic acid, a type of fat in olive oil, is converted into a lipid hormone called oleoylethanolamide (OEA), which promotes a feeling of fullness.
  • How to eat it: Use olive oil for all of your cooking and in salad dressings. When baking, you can also replace butter with olive oil -- many chefs recommend using 3/4 cup olive oil in place of 1 cup butter. While all olive oils contain these MUFAs, those labeled “extra-virgin” are the least processed, so they’re likely to have higher levels of polyphenols, antioxidants that also promote heart health and fight cancer.

Good Fat No. 4: Nuts

  • Type of fat: MUFAs
  • Why you need it: Nuts promote heart health and gum health. “You also get a lot of healthy phytochemicals because it’s a plant food,” says Tribole.
  • How to eat it: Nuts are the easiest to incorporate into your diet. Keep a bagful at hand, and sprinkle in salads, yogurt, stir fries -- or just grab a handful for a snack. Try eating a variety of nuts, like almonds, walnuts and pistachios.

Good Fat No. 5: Flax Seeds

  • Type of fat: Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of PUFA
  • Why you need it: It boosts heart health and is a good source of fiber.
  • How to eat it: Like nuts, flax seeds are easy to use. Add them to your salads and cereals, and even baked goods.

Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/LdF

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