Despite recent headlines like “Butter is Back” and “Eat Butter” and “Don’t Blame Fat,” dietary guidelines still tell us to limit our saturated fat intake to less than 10% of our calories and even 7% to further reduce the risk of heart disease. Total fat intake recommendations remain between 20-35% of the total diet.
The very low fat diet by Dr. Dean Ornish at about 10% total fat continues to be awarded “Best Heart Healthy Diet” each year and success stories like John Frank’s inspire people to eat healthy and stick to a diet relatively low in fat for optimal health.
All diets consist of three major food types, or macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Even a very low-fat diet will have some percentage of fat included, so which are the best choices?
Recommendations show that unsaturated fats are healthful; you may hear the words omega-3, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. These are all types of healthy fat in the diet found in plant-based foods. If you’re going to eat fat-containing foods, opt for types including fatty fish (salmon, herring), nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, hemp and chia), healthy oils (flax, olive oil), and fatty fruits (avocado, olives). Choosing more highly processed, low-fat foods has been debunked (think low fat cookies!), so be sure to choose whole, unprocessed foods that have healthy fats in them naturally like the ones I listed above.
Remember, a little fat goes a long way and is concentrated in small portions. As an example, a serving of oil is one teaspoon. A serving of avocado is 1/8, or just a slice. Some fats are healthy, but as always, more does not equate with better. For optimal health, choose plant-based fats in an unprocessed forma and pay close attention to the quantity you’re eating. Bon appetite!
Ginger Hultin MS, RD, LDN, is a Chicago-based freelance writer and dietitian at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care specializing in integrative health and whole food-based nutrition. She serves as President for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Follow Ginger on Twitter @GingerHultinRD, her blog becomingginger.blogspot.com, and Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/gingerhultin/.
JNF: Ginger and I met while appearing on a recent show discussing diet, fat and health and I was very impressed by what she had to say, so I invited her to guest blog here.