Many times when people decide to eat healthy foods, they try to eliminate fats from their diet. However, your body needs healthy fats and substitutes in order to function properly.
The fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K, and F are absorbed by the body with the fat that we eat, and are also necessary for the metabolism of certain minerals.
To understand how dietary fat is important, you’ll need to know the difference between saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are animal based. You find these fats in meats and dairy products such as bacon, butter, and lard. These are the fats that used to be accused of clogging people’s arteries and causing heart problems.
The latest research, however, has shown that saturated fats are important in a healthy diet. They add taste and texture to foods and contribute to a feeling of fullness.
If you are trying to lose weight, it is important to include some saturated fats in your diet to avoid those overwhelming cravings for carbs that can often sabotage our weight loss attempts.
Though it seems counter intuitive, a moderate intake of saturated fats can also help maintain a healthy balance of good cholesterol and lower levels of bad cholesterol.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. They’re beneficial for the body and actually contribute to good heart health – especially monounsaturated fats. These fats come from plant sources. Good sources of healthy unsaturated fats include:
- Olive oil, safflower oil, soybean oil
- Flaxseed oil (can be added to food, but not used to cook)
- Nuts – almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, etc.
When preparing your meals, you’ll want to use these types of fats as much as possible. Adding nuts or avocado to a dish can boost the heart healthy fats. And they also add delicious flavor and make your healthy meals more interesting and flavourful.
When you’re baking, you can also make substitutions for fats. For example, if a cake or brownie recipe calls for oil you can substitute applesauce or carrot puree. These will give the same texture and moisture without the fat.
If you’re not ready to go completely away from oil in baking, try substituting half of the oil for applesauce. This will give you the best of both worlds. In many recipes, the oil can be cut in half without significantly changing the texture.
Experiment with your own favorite recipes to try to make them healthier by including a good balance of healthy fats in moderation.
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