Heart Healthy Fats You Need, But Don’t Overdo It

Have you heard that moderation is key before? With some of our heart healthy fat food sources, this saying is especially true.

It reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, not too much, not too little but just the right amount. This is exactly the balance we have to find when consuming heart healthy fats. They are an important part of our diet. They help with heart health and keeping cholesterol levels (good and bad) at the right levels. They also can be very satisfying to keep you feeling full longer.

According to the American Heart Association, you should have no more than 30% of your total calories from total fat in a day. Furthermore, the recommendation states that you should limit your saturated fat (this is the fat in food that “saturates” or clogs your arteries) to no more than 7% of your total calories per day. Remember the total amount of calories you can consume, is very much case by case, depending on your own health conditions and weight loss or weight management goals. That said, you can’t forget to include some monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which are the heart healthy fats.

Here are a few important heart healthy fat sources that you should include as a part of your diet. Just be sure to keep the portion controlled because remember it still adds up quickly, in regards to fat and calories.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature, therefore include many different oils, such as canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, avocadoes, peanut butter and many different nuts and seeds.

  • On average, only one tablespoon of the above oils has 120 calories, 14 grams of total fat and 2 grams of saturated fat
  • A cup of avocado has 234 calories, 21 grams of total fat and 3 grams of saturated fat
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter has 188 calories, 16 grams of total fat and 3.3 grams of saturated fat
  • A half cup of mixed nuts has 407 calories, 35 grams of total fat and 5 grams of saturated fat

These foods are good to include because they have monounsaturated fats. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, especially if you are trying to lose weight because the calories can add up quickly.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are broken down into omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3s come from seafood and oily fishes, such as salmon, mackarel, tuna, herring and trout. While omega-6s come from vegetable oils, such as soybean, corn and safflower oils.

As humans we must get our omega-3s, such as DHA, EPA and ALA, from our food. So be sure to include fish, seafood or flaxseed into your diet. A simple goal and guideline is to try and eat fish at least 2-3 times per week and use low-fat cooking methods. A serving of fish is 3 ounces at one time. Omega-6s also must be consumed because the human body is not able to create them. So be sure to include some of the oils mentioned above.

In the end, the goal is to replace many of the saturated fats and all trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while making sure you control your portion size.

What are some of your favorite ways to include these essential fats into your daily eating routine?

Photo credit:  artizone

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