People with diabetes need to be concerned with related health conditions such as obesity and heart disease. It would be impossible to eliminate all fats since our bodies need certain fatty acids to be healthy. Discover more about good fats, where to find them, and why they are important to include in our daily diet.
Not All Fat Is Bad
All fat is not bad for us. This can be confusing when you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the fat in your diet. The good fats help deliver vitamins, keep our skin soft and give us energy. The bad fats are the culprits when it comes to cardiovascular issues and systemic inflammation. Trans-fats found in prepared and processed foods are the worst kind of fat. At least 10 percent of our calories should come from healthy monounsaturated fats. According to the dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adults should get 20 to 30 percent of their calories from fats.
It Takes More Than Fat to Gain Weight
People often think eating fat will make them gain weight. Gaining weight involves eating more calories, which can include protein, carbohydrates, and alcohol, as well as fat. When this is coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, people gain weight. Other factors also play a role in how much weight people gain, such as age, gender, and genetics. Fat does contain the most calories per gram compared to carbohydrates or proteins. To maintain a healthy weight, people need to reduce their total calorie intake, exercise daily and choose the right fats. Good fats can reduce the risk of heart disease and minimize the amount of belly fat people carry, which is an added risk of developing cardiovascular problems and diabetes. Fats high in Omega 3 fatty acids including fish may lower the risk of diabetes.
The Basics About Fats
Fats fall into two categories. Saturated fats are referred to as the “bad” fats. Unsaturated fats are often called the “good” fats. The goal is to replace the “bad” Tran’s fats, hydrogenated fats and saturated fats with “good” fats. These include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Good fats can help reduce your cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, bass, bluefish, catfish, sardines, cod, halibut and trout. Plant sources are in foods such as walnuts and flaxseed. Add fatty fish to your diet twice weekly. Bake, broil, grill, or boil your fish rather than frying it. Polyunsaturated fats are fats that may help lower your triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels. They are found in vegetable oils, such as corn oil and soybean oil. These should be eaten in moderation since they may increase inflammation in large amounts. Monounsaturated fats are good for your heart. Get them from olive oil, olives, sesame seeds, avocados, Brazil nuts, hemp seeds, natural peanut butter, Chia seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and canola oil.
What about the Bad Fats?
Knowing where the “bad” fats lurk can help you avoid them. The bad ones increase your risk for heart disease because they clog your arteries and can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. Saturated fats should only be about 7 percent of your total calories each day. Minimal levels of saturated fat are necessary to carry fat-soluble vitamins, absorb minerals and fuel your brain functions. Saturated fats are found in regular whole fat dairy products, chicken skin, regular mayonnaise, cream cheese, lunch meats, and red fatty meat that is not grass feed. Cut the fat off your meat before serving it and choose low-fat dairy products to reduce your intake of saturated fats. Tran’s fats are found in packaged cakes, cookies, crackers, chips, and other processed and fast foods. Hydrogenated fats are a type of Trans fat found in stick margarine, processed foods, and shortening. Choose fresh fruit and vegetables over packaged and fast foods. Cook and season foods with olive oil or low sodium broth rather than stick margarine.
How to Handle Good Fats in Your Daily Diet
Get to know the good fats from the bad ones. Read labels to determine which fats are found in the foods you buy. Shop the outer edges of the supermarket, where you find the least processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fresh meats. Look for meat that is grass fed. Choose low-fat dairy products. Add beans to your diet for bulk and eat less red meat. Use portion control. For example, a portion of meat should be about 3-4 ounces, or around the size of the palm of your hand. Select fat-free, calorie-free dressings. Make your own with olive oil and flavored vinegars. Use lemons or mustard to create sauces, rather than oils and creams. Consider using food plans that are rich in healthy fats, such as the Mediterranean Diet. Remember you can have too much of a good thing. Even good fats are high in calories, so be mindful of your daily intake of these essential fats. Use a cholesterol testing kit to track your progress and make sure your cholesterol levels are healthy.
Good fats can reduce your risk of inflammation and heart disease while keeping your body healthy and energized. Plenty of tasty food options include the fats your body needs to function. Learning how to separate the good fats from the bad ones can improve the quality of your life.
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