There is a misconception that fats are bad for you, and that all fats should be avoided. However, that is not true! Our bodies need some fat for optimal functioning and getting fats from our diet is absolutely vital. Fats are necessary to provide energy, facilitate body growth, develop healthy cells, make hormones, etc. In fact, Canada’s Food Guide recommends that 25-35% of your diet come from fats. The truth is there are good fats and bad fats. As a general rule, good fats are liquid at room temperature, whereas bad fats are semi-solid or solid. We need to stay away from bad fats because they are dangerous as they can increase your risk of heart disease and other health conditions.
- Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through hydrogenation process, which extends the shelf life of packaged goods. Trans fat is found in various packaged and processed foods, including butter, cookies, etc.
- Tip: Trans fat should be avoided altogether. Current FDA guidelines allow manufacturers to label products as “trans fat free” if it contains <0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Check the ingredients label for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils to ensure that the product contains no trans fat.
- Saturated fat is mainly found in animal products such as red meat, whole-milk dairy products, and also plant-based sources such as coconut milk and palm oil
- Tip: Saturated fats intake should be limited to less than 10% of your diet.
- Mono-unsaturated fat is found in canola and olive oils, avocados, and nuts.
- Tip: Substitute avocado on sandwiches or bagels instead of butter or cream cheese, and use olive oil in your cooking or salads.
- Poly-unsaturated fat consists of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Omega-6 fats sources are commonly found in vegetable oils, whereas omega-3 fats are found in fish, walnuts, almonds, and flaxseed.
- Tip: Snack on almonds or walnuts, or add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your smoothie or oatmeal for an omega boost.