Thank you for continuing to follow this series on fats. I hope by this point, you have a better idea of the role of fats and know the differences among saturated, unsaturated, trans fats and essential polyunsaturated fats. Now as we don’t consider just nutrients when eating food, let’s talk about some practical ways to incorporate more healthy fats into our diets. I’ve tried to put together as many useful ways as I know, but if you have your own swaps and suggestions, feel free to sound off in the comments.
1. Eating Oily Fish and & Taking Omega 3 Supplements – TRUTH
Consuming oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and pilchards are a great way to incorporate more EFAs into your diet. There are UK guidelines for the consumption of oily fish along with other fish and shellfish because there is a concern about mercury poisoning. They recommend two 140g portions of fish including 1 oily fish.
As I am not particularly a fan of eating fish (unless I have cooked it), I aim to get my omega 3 through supplements or vegetarian sources. There is some controversy on the usefulness of fish oil supplements as compared to eating fish, but if you do consider taking them, you should consult your medical doctor for the best advice.
2. Introducing Nuts & Seeds to your daily meals – TRUTH
Nuts and seeds are great sources of healthy unsaturated fats, and we can also gain lots of protein and fibre from them.
Between meals, if you’re feeling a bit peckish, snacking on a handful of almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seed could be very satiating and can reduce your appetite for more high fat, salt or sugary foods, while providing you with essential fatty acids.
You could also include linseed, chia seeds or nuts in your breakfast porridge or salads to get a boost of omega 3s and fibre!
3. Reducing fat intake from Dairy products – TRUTH
Where saturated fats are unavoidable, such as in dairy, cheese and butter, it’s recommended that we make swaps for reduced-fat and low-fat options such as skimmed milk or low-fat yoghurt. Just beware that low-fat may sometimes mean that more sugar is added to compensate for the taste. I typically purchase greek or unflavoured low-fat yoghurt to avoid added sugar.
Some people will even switch to spreads or light margarine with canola/ rapeseed and olive oil for their daily needs. Personally, I prefer the taste of butter in some dishes, so I still include it in my cooking, or a hybrid of butter and spread.
4. Changing Cooking methods for Meats and Vegetables – TRUTH
When it comes down to reducing your total fat intake, especially saturated fats, you may need to do more active swaps. For instance, instead of having deep-fried chicken or deep-fried pork, you may want to try shallow frying or baking with a crispy coating to get the satisfying crunch of typical fried food.
You can also cut off skin or visible fat from meats like pork,beef or chicken, or choose lean versions for items such as minced meats. However, because I have done my share of experimenting cooking – and I love to eat- I will warn that the taste of skinless chicken is not quite as satisfying. So you may need to season it a bit more with herbs and spices, as the fat typically enhances the flavours.
To avoid sticking and burning of your meat, you may also need to add a small amount of oil to your pan, such as sunflower oil, safflower, soya bean oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil which are all unsaturated oils. I’ve come across this useful guide to the various oils and their best uses, given their smoking point, which makes life a whole lot easier.
When you choose to cook vegetables, try steaming them or stir-fry them with a drizzle of sesame or peanut oil to maintain their nutrients and integrity while imparting flavour. Alternatively, roasting is also a great way to cook flavourful veggies with some flair.
5. Getting your Avocado (Toast) fix – TRUTH
Avocado has been known to increase HDL levels in a meta-analysis of several studies. But, I’m not much of a bread eater or toast-for-breakfast person. So, while a 50g serving of avocado provides about 6g of healthy unsaturated oils, I prefer buttered toast to avocado toast, if given the choice. I know it’s totally the aesthetic on tons of Instagram posts from wellbeing and fitness influencers, but I’ve never found the appeal. Different folks, different strokes.
Definitely don’t be fooled into thinking that this is the only way you can eat avocado though. I just prefer it on its own or maybe with a bit of farine (dehydrated cassava flakes) mixed in. Some other ways include making guacamole, which you can use dip vegetable sticks or tortilla chips or using avocado instead of mayo as a salad dressing.
6. Eat More Coconut and coconut oil – MYTH
Coconut and coconut oil are typically considered very healthful, but they are especially controversial. Although coconut is a fruit, it has majorly saturated oil and following most nutrition advice, we, therefore, should limit the amount that we consume. There is lots of information which promotes using coconut oil internally or even taking MCT supplements, but there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm that this high intake of saturated fat would be beneficial to health.
While I like coconuts quite a lot, I try to adhere to the advice of reduced consumption, but I use the oil externally on my skin and hair. Though on occasion because of the high smoke point of coconut oil and the distinct taste, I find it makes a delicious medium for shallow frying aromatics for a curry or adding flavour to stir-fried vegetables. Hopefully, future research will be able to confirm the true nature of the fats in coconut, since it is so tasty.
7. Reducing fats from other processed foods – TRUTH
Baked goods such as cookies, biscuits, cakes and pastries are often high in saturated fats such as palm oil. While the occasional treat shouldn’t send you to the cardiac ward immediately, having these high fat, salt and sugar foods every day could be very detrimental to your health, resulting in cardiovascular disease.
For foods like chips and other fried snack foods, you could try eating smaller portions or switch to baked versions. We want to be very careful about the amount of fat in each serving, ensuring that you are below a total fat intake of 78g per day.
To summarise this whole series, we want to aim to keep total fat intake to under 78g, while your saturated fat intake should be less than 20g and trans-fat intake is no more than 5g of trans fats.
Swapping out saturated fats for the more healthful unsaturated options (MUFA and PUFA) as nuts, seeds and oily fish. While reducing deep-fried and high-fat foods should help to improve your HDL cholesterol too.
Of course, this is not all going to be a one-size-fits-all solution, but hopefully, it has gotten you thinking about eating a more balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle to help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
I’d love to hear about any other ways you have any other ways of maintaining a healthy fat consumption in the comments!
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