This story was originally published in Canadian Living's cookbook special, Eat Right for Life. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
Make fat work for you
You've probably heard that a diet high in fat is linked to obesity, heart disease and certain cancers. But have you also heard that not all fats are bad for you and that, in fact, cutting out too much fat can be unhealthy? We've sorted through all the research to help you find just the right balance of fat in your diet. On our delicious menu: lower-fat choices and ways you can replace harmful fats with healthy ones.
Why fat matters
Fat is part of a healthy diet because it provides energy and helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. There are several kinds of fat, and a few of them are in the spotlight because they may also ward off heart attacks and strokes, ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases, and even keep your eyes healthy and mind alert.
Good fat or bad fat?
• Omega-3 fatty acids are the fat source that nutrition experts love most — studies have shown they are good for your heart. You can find these polyunsaturated fatty acids in some types of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. They may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, and can lower elevated blood triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Studies are also looking at whether they help prevent irregular heartbeat and sudden cardiac death in healthy men. Omega-3s also have anti-inflammatory properties and can ease stiff, painful joints in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
• Monounsaturated fats are also heart-healthy fats. You can get your daily dose in olive and canola oils.
• Saturated fats and trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are the least healthy fats. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products; trans fats are hydrogenated vegetable fats often found in processed foods.
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