A diet that is low in fat and high in fiber is best for heart health. Most people have a limited budget for fat. Did you know that the type of fat you choose has a big impact on your cholesterol level and more? Healthy fats that are naturally found in nuts, avocados and fish are beneficial in small amounts. By choosing these foods along with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans/legumes, you will consume a healthier diet.
Choosing monounsaturated fat in place of saturated fat helps you keep your cholesterol low. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive and canola oils.
Polyunsaturated fats are classified as either omega 6 or omega 3 fatty acids. The omega 3 variety is best for the heart. It is found in cold water fish, ground flax, canola oil, walnuts, wheat germ and some vegetables (squash, broccoli and leafy greens). Most Americans consume too much omega 6 (refined oils) and not enough omega 3s.
Saturated fat and trans fats should be limited or avoided. These fats raise LDL or bad cholesterol. Trans fat is even worse because it also lowers HDL or good cholesterol. Saturated fat is usually found in meat and dairy products. Trans fat is found in many fried foods, frozen foods and package foods made with hydrogenized shortening.
Shopping and Label Reading Tips
Most people would do better to consume a diet that is low in fat so they can control their weight. Here are shopping tips:
• Choose foods that contain 0 g trans fat. If you avoid a lot of frozen, fried and processed foods you can keep your trans fat lower.
• Choose foods with 5% or less of the daily value for saturated fat. By choosing lean meat and fat-free*dairy products you can keep your diet lower in saturated fat. (*But you should choose dairy products low in sugar, too!)
• Choose foods that are low in fat. A food that has 5% or less of the daily value for fat is low in fat.
Choose the Right Fat
It is not practical to calculate the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3’s in your diet, but if you follow these tips you are on the right track for eating the right fat:
• Choose olive and canola oils in place of other refined oils and shortening.
• Eat fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel or trout twice a week. (Prepare with minimal fat.)
• Add small amounts of ground flax meal to cereal, smoothies and baked goods. Patients treated with Coumadin should not add flax to foods.
• Add a small handful of walnuts to your salad each day - these make a great substitute for eggs, cheese and croutons!
• Cut down on the use of refined oils, margarine, fried foods, salad dressings and mayonnaise.
By Pat Hunter, MA, RD.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.