Fat is an essential nutrient for our bodies. It provides energy and helps our digestive system absorb certain vitamins from foods.
But what types of fat should you be eating? Are there any you should avoid? Here is information on the different types of fat:
Saturated fats: According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, we should choose foods that are full of nutrients but limited in saturated fat. Saturated fat raises the levels of LDL cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol. This in turn raises our risk of heart disease.
Saturated fats occur naturally in foods such as meat and poultry, dairy products, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil. The top sources of saturated fat in the US diet include sandwiches (such as burgers, tacos, and burritos) followed by desserts and sweet snacks.
Unsaturated fats: Unsaturated fats may help improve blood cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated and trans fats. For a healthier diet, select food with unsaturated fats from plants such as in avocados, olives and walnuts and fish such as in salmon, trout, and herring. Unsaturated oils include canola, olive, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oil.
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Trans fat in foods is formed through a manufacturing process that changes a liquid oil into a solid fat at room temperature. Trans fats are of concern because they have been found to raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Trans fats were typically found in foods like margarine and processed foods. However, since 2015 the FDA has taken steps to remove artificial trans fats from the food supply.
Read the Nutrition Facts Label for the fat content of a food. To make an informed decision, choose foods with unsaturated fats and little or no saturated or trans-fat. Recipes are a good place to start. Try recipes that use oil instead of butter, shortening, margarine or lard.
Other suggestions from MyPlate include:
• Cut back on foods containing saturated fat including desserts and baked goods such as cakes, cookies, donuts, pastries and croissants.
• Reduce the amount of whole milk and full-fat dairy foods and dairy desserts consumed.
• Build meals around protein foods that are naturally low in saturated fat such as beans, peas and lentils, as well as soy foods, skinless chicken, seafood and lean meats.
Creamy Avocado Chicken Salad
- 2 cooked chicken breast halves, diced
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Gentle rub avocado under cold running water. Slice avocado in half, remove pit and dice. Mix gently with chicken in a medium-sized bowl.
Combine sour cream, black pepper, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder and salt in a small bowl. Add to avocado and chicken. Stir to combine. Serve on whole grain bread or with whole grain crackers.
Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Nutrition information per serving: Calories 220, total fat 14g, sodium 220mg, total carbohydrates 7g, fiber 4g, protein 15g.
Cami Wells is an Extension Educator for Nebraska Extension in Hall County. Contact Cami by phone at 308-385-5088, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Hall County website at www.hall.unl.edu