How to Eat the Right Amounts of Healthy Fats
Find delicious ways to work the right amount of healthy fats into your daily diet. By: Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN
Many people still think that eating fat will make them fat, and that is so far from the truth. Fat helps fill you up so you are less likely to overeat at a meal or too soon thereafter. As with most things though, more fat doesn’t necessarily make it better for you. Too much fat can add up to too many calories, and the wrong kind of fats can be harmful for your health. Let us help you choose the right kind of fats and the appropriate portion sizes for a win-win situation.
No other nut has as much alpha-linolenic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fat known as Omega-3 fatty acid, than walnuts. Studies have shown that walnuts help protect against heart disease, reduce the risk of stroke, and reduce inflammation. One serving of walnuts equals 1-ounce or about 14 halves and provides 185 calories and 18.5g total fat. Pre-portion a serving into snack-size baggies to avoid consuming too many at a time. Walnuts make a flavorful addition to dishes such as salads, breads, and smoothies and are an easy, on-the-go snack when paired with a piece of fruit.
Don't forget that there are many nut butters on the market other than standard peanut butter. A recommended serving of almond butter, one tablespoon, has 101 calories and 9.5 grams of total fat with 91% of that fat being healthy monounsaturated fat. Almonds are beneficial to your health because they help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Try subbing almond butter on a sandwich, apple, or piece of celery, or use it in sauces for a rich, nutty flavor.
Sardines are a readily available and affordable fish that yield big health benefits. A 3.25-ounce can is only 191 calories and is packed with 56.7% of your daily needs of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. Try them as a sandwich filling on rye bread with mustard and red onion or simply grill fresh sardines as an appetizer or entrée. When buying canned sardines, opt for the water-packed variety to reduce calories and added salt.
Technically a fruit, versatile avocados are filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as well as fiber and vitamin C. A 1-ounce serving (approximately 1/5 of a small avocado) has 50 calories and 4.5 total fat. Its creamy texture makes avocados a great sandwich spread, ideal for dips and dressings, and a delicious topping on tacos or salads. Make Easy Guacamole to get a full dose of all of avocado’s nutritional benefits.
The high monounsaturated fat content in olive oil may help lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease and stroke. The key is to stick with a 1-tablespoon serving size providing 120 calories and 14g of fat. To help keep portions in control, put your oil into a spray bottle and spritz the oil versus pouring it. Whether you are using olive oil for marinades, dips, dressing, or sautéing, a little goes a long way.
Edamame are young soybeans, usually still in the pod, that are soft and edible. A half-cup serving is high in fiber (9 grams) and protein (11 grams) and as with most soy products contain unsaturated fats like plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Try roasting edamame for a filling snack and an occasional alternative to nuts. You can also use edamame in many dishes as a vegetarian protein option.