I’ve discussed before the importance of fat in one’s diet and the fact that fat does NOT make one fat. In fact, much recent research suggests that it is excess processed carbs that do far more damage to your weight and health than fats. But, an exploration for another day. What’s important is that we acknowledge that fats are a healthy, necessary part of our diet and should be a part of every single meal each day. My basic recommendation? Meals should contain healthy fat, protein, and non-processed (think whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies) carbohydrates. So, what’s a healthy fat, anyway?

Animal sources of fat are sometimes a cause for debate. Personally, my own research and education has led me to conclude that the whole “ban” on saturated fat was a poorly supported one, which I’ve written about before. In any case, grass-fed beef, chicken, and eggs are great sources of protein, vitamins, and healthy fats. Consume the “heavier” stuff like red meat in moderation, as part of a balanced, fruit and veggies-heavy diet. Full fat dairy is also a good source of fat. And the best animal derived source? FISH and SEAFOOD! These sea creatures offer up not only a typically lean protein option, but the all-important and rarely consumed sufficiently DHA fatty acid, an omega-3 that helps cut inflammation in the body and make the brain, cell membranes, and body overall healthier and happier. Choose sustainably caught, low-mercury options like wild salmon and oysters.

For plant-based sources, nuts, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, and seeds are all great options. While nuts in general offer a host of vitamins and minerals, walnuts offer an extra bonus of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are also a great source of omega-3s, as well as fiber and calcium. Flaxseeds are a good omega-3 plant source, as well, but be sure to either use the oil or grind them to get the benefits; our bodies can’t do much with the whole seed! Avocado contains a good dose of protein compared to other produce options, provides amazing vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats, and can be easily used in a variety of applications, from guacamole to chocolate avocado pudding. Olive oil is best used as a finishing oil (meaning not for cooking), as the high heat of cooking destroys many of the bonds of the oil and make it less nutritious. Coconut oil, however, is great for cooking, as it is well-suited for high heats, not losing its structure!

Ok, so, what fats do you want to avoid? Processed fats, like soybean oil, corn oil, and other highly-refined options. Trans fats, often found in processed foods and fried foods, should always be avoided. These fats are typically made in the lab and cause an increase in “bad” cholesterol, LDL, while decreasing our “good” HDL cholesterol. And don’t trust the food label to tell you if there are trans fats; read the ingredients! Anything that contains hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils should be avoided!

Which healthy fat is your favorite? How do you ensure a daily dose of good fats in all of your meals? Feeling confused as to how to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet? Come on in to CoreLife and we’ll help you get your diet on track!

Aubrey MS RDN