Fat is essential to health. They help the body absorb nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K, need fat to be absorbed by the body. If you don’t get enough fat in your diet, you risk getting inadequate amounts of necessary fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. Concentrate on eating healthy fats like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fats. Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) may help to improve cholesterol levels, which may decrease your risk for heart disease. These fats also may be beneficial to insulin levels and blood sugar control. Olive, canola and peanut oil are all high in monounsaturated fat. Avocados, nuts and seeds are found to be high in MUFA. Polyunsaturated fats are found in soybean, corn and sunflower oils. These polyunsaturated fats may improve blood cholesterol levels. Omega-3 oils may play a role in lowering triglycerides, blood pressure and risk for heart disease. Foods high in omega-3s include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, walnuts and flaxseed. The omega-3s EPA and DHA may help you focus by boosting brain cells and neurotransmitters.
When cooking, try using different oils for different applications. Extra-virgin olive oil can be used as a salad dressing and for sautéing over low to moderate heat. Soybean oil, often labeled as vegetable oil, can be used in many recipes from baked goods to salad dressings. Avocado oil can be used in salad dressing and for stir-frying or sautéing. Canola oil works well with sautéing, baking and frying.
Remember to always store your oils in a cool, dark place instead of right next to the stove. Heat and light can damage oils. The next time you think “no fat,” think again and include some healthy fats at meal time.
Mankato Riverfront Hy-Vee HealthLetter: Holly Ellison, RD, LD