Fats are friends….and food!


Almost all Americans fear fats but they should not.  Healthy fats found in nuts and fish are extremely beneficial.  Studies have proved that fats give the body long lasting energy.  As well as, helps in brain development and prevents blood clotting.  The healthy fats are a necessary part of every person’s diet.  However, consuming too much fat will eventually add to weight gain, so it is important to know ways to replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats.  Before anyone can replace fats they must know which are healthy and unhealthy.   Fat comes from nuts, dairy, meats, oils and butters.  Fat is found in and around every organ in our bodies to help functions run smoothly.  Some fat in the body is called storage fat.  Storage fat is exactly what the name implies; it is stored beneath the skin and found deep in the body to protect internal organs.  On average women should have 15% of their body weight be essential fat and storage fat.  It is healthy and normal to have fat in the body.    

So, what are the healthy fats? Olive and canola oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, walnuts, fish, and omega-3 eggs are all recognized as healthy fat foods.  Omega-3 fats are the healthiest fats out there.  They are known for controlling blood clotting, protecting against heart disease and stroke, as well as building cell membranes in the brain to prevent memory loss.  There’s only one downside to Omega-3s, the body doesn’t make it, and so it must be eaten!  Foods high in Omega-3s are flaxseeds and walnuts, soybeans and canola oil, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, and all sorts of fish. 

What about the unhealthy fats? Well, unhealthy fats are very common in today’s meals. They consist of hydrogenated oils, butter, lard, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The terms for these fats are saturated fats and trans fats.  These fats are unhealthy because they raise the cholesterol level in the blood stream.  Too much cholesterol in the arteries and veins can cause a build up around the walls. This build up can slow down or block the blood supply back to the heart, which can ultimately result in a heart attack.

It is time to replace the unhealthy fats for healthy fats! Imagine there are three plates, one has a ½ oz of almonds and a ½ oz of raisins, another has 1 oz of plain almonds and the last plate has 2 whole wheat crackers with extra sharp cheddar cheese on them.  Which plate has the least amount of fat and which plate has the most fat?  Many people would believe that the plate with the plain almonds would have the least amount of fat.  However, raisins contain little to no fat.  So the plate with the least amount of fat is the almond and raisin mix.  The almond raisin mix was made up of 5.8 grams of fat, next came the plain almonds that had 14.36 grams of fat, and finally the cheese and crackers had 21.4 grams.  Now, 14 grams is not that far away from 21 grams, but that is 7 grams less of fat.  It is very rare to only eat two cheese and crackers or 1 oz of almonds.  To make the serving size more realistic the plates were tripled.   Three 3oz of almonds were compared to 6 cheese and crackers, the difference was 21 grams of fat or 190 calories.  It is an easy switch with long-term results. Next time the urge for a snack arises, think of what can be switched out for something healthier.  Feel free comment below saying how you’ve replaced unhealthy fats for healthy fats!

This blog is written by Mikaela Blackmer, a student intern of Valley Nutrition Counseling with a major in Kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst