Some may ask the question, why do we need fats in our diet? Is fat really that important for us to eat? The answer is an unequivocal YES!
Fat is an essential nutrient for our bodies and a part of a healthy diet. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have many health benefits such as lowering bad cholesterol and aiding in other important bodily functions including brain functions. These types of fats are found in a variety of foods such as fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, avocado or nut butters.
We can distinguish the healthy fats by looking at the consistency. Oils that are liquid, rather than solid, at room temperature are typically less saturated and much healthier for us. Saturated and trans fats are those fats we should try to limit in our diet. These are found in certain foods such as fatty meats, fast foods, butter, cheese and whole milk dairy products. While these foods are OK in moderation, it is suggested to include more of the "healthy fat" foods in our daily diet.
Healthy fats are not only good for our overall health, but can help keep us full longer. Do your children need some snacks to get them through their long and busy school days? Consider adding healthy fats to their lunches or snack time to keep them full of energy throughout the day.
Here are some Ideas: Turkey and avocado wrap, hummus with veggie sticks and pita bread, peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread, Greek yogurt with granola and berries, almonds and dried cranberries.
Choosing healthy fats is a great way to increase your good cholesterol, decrease your bad cholesterol and improve your overall heart health. You can find more information about healthy fats and heart health at eatright.org, healthyforgood.heart.org or ask your local dietitian.
Denise Coots, RD, LD, CNSC is clinical nutrition coordinator at SSM Health, St. Mary's hospital in Jefferson City. She has a passion for helping others ranging from those patients in the intensive care unit to individuals in the community with various dietary issues.