Lisa Urquhart shows you which fats to try and which to ditch
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been linked to higher ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and decreased ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL). Research suggests that eating these kinds of fats in moderation can improve your blood glucose levels and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
You can find them in plant oils – olive, sunflower, canola, rice bran – as well as in nuts, fish, seeds, avocados and soy. These types of fats are also a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered to be one of the healthiest diets in the world.
The ones to avoid are saturated and trans-unsaturated (trans) fats. These are strongly linked to increased risk of raised cholesterol, particularly bad LDL cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease and stroke.
While there aren’t a lot of trans fats in Australia, you’ll find saturated fats (which are usually solid at room temperature) in animal fats such as chicken skin, fat on meat, full-cream dairy, butter, margarine, in packaged products like biscuits and pastries, as well as in palm and coconut oils.
It’s important to remember that fat of any type is a concentrated source of energy, typically containing 37kJ per gram. In comparison, carbs have 16kJ and protein has 17kJ per gram. Make sensible choices when eating fats, particularly if you’re watching your weight, as eating too much ‘healthy’ fat can also cause kilo creep.
1. Sprinkle your cereal or low-fat plain Greek-style yoghurt with a few teaspoons of raw nuts or seeds.
2. Spread avocado on your toast instead of butter.
3. Mix a teaspoon of olive oil with lemon juice and drizzle over your salad.
4. Enjoy tuna, salmon, mackerel or sardines 2-3 times a week, as oily fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.