I hope everyone is faring well this winter and that you have begun the New Year with a healthy start! Since February is American Heart month I thought I would share some information on healthy fats, also referred to as fatty acids. The focus should be on unsaturated fats, which include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They have been shown to help lower the risk of developing heart disease, especially when you replace the unhealthy saturated fats with them.
According to a national survey conducted on behalf of the ‘American Heart Foundation’ less than half American citizens are aware of the health benefits of consuming ‘better fats’ such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. This is rather alarming considering that cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke claim approximately a shocking 870,000 lives per year.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are far healthier as they can lower bad cholesterol in your blood – low density lipoproteins (LDL) thus lowering your risk of coronary heart disease.
Unsaturated fatty acids have the potential to help lower your total cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol, which is where the protective properties come into play. It is still important to remember that fat calories are fat calories, no matter what the source, so it is key to focus on portion size even with the healthy fats. There are so many delicious options to add into your diet that will be beneficial to your heart and overall health, I hope you find some fun in experimenting with these ideas!
Omega-3 fatty acids: Try adding in some fatty fish such as salmon, herring or mackerel, the American Heart Association suggests two servings a week. Walnuts and flaxseed are excellent sources as well as flax oil.
Monounsaturated fatty acids: Try using olive oil or canola oil for salad dressing or sautéing vegetables. Nuts and seeds, avocados, peanut oil, soft-tub margarines made from olive and canola oil and almond butter are other foods to add into your daily nutrition routine.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Try incorporating some different vegetable oils in your cooking like safflower or sunflower oil. Nuts and sees are also another good sources of these healthy fats.
Enjoy trying these healthy foods!
Angelina M., MS, RD, LDN