Most of us know that we should limit the amount of saturated fat that we consume. You know- the fried fast foods, the high fat dairy products and the fatty cuts of meat? But did you know that a recent survey put on by the Becel Centre For Hearth Health reported that a whopping 87% of us Canadians had no idea how much HEALTHY fat (unsaturated fat) we should consume per day? Not only that, but 71% of Canadians didn’t even know what roles unsaturated fats play when it comes to health. This is a bit alarming considering the fact that consuming enough mono and polyunsaturated fats is key when it comes to our health.
Obviously during the holiday season, heart health is not top of mind. I get that. But perhaps now that 2013 is upon us, it’s a good time to take stock of your current eating habits, specifically whether or not you’re getting enough of the good stuff–such as heart healthy fats– in your diet.
In Canada, we recommend that all adults consume 2-3 Tbsp. of unsaturated fats per day. That would be roughly the equivalent of 1 Tbsp. of salad dressing using olive oil, 1/4 of an avocado, 2 tsp. of non-hydrogenated margarine on our toast and a small handful of nuts and seeds.
Not so bad, right?
So, why is it so important that we consume these healthy fats??
Let’s review the “good fats”…
- Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, rapeseed oil, some nuts and avocado. Mono-unsaturated fats help to decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and also help to increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, helping to lower our risk of heart disease.
- Polyunsaturated fats are found in oily fish (Omega-3′s), sunflower oil, soybean oil and non-hydrogenated margarines such as Becel. Polyunsaturated fats help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and Omega-3 fatty acids also help to lower unhealthy triglyceride levels, decreasing our risk of heart disease, stroke and pancreatitis.
What about our toddlers and young kids?
It is especially important for our little ones to consume enough fat in their diet for proper brain and nervous system development. It’s recommended that, for kids 2 years and older, 30% of their diet comes from fat, most of which should be healthy, plant and fish-based sources of fat, with a small amount coming from saturated fat, such as that in milk.. Following the rule of including 2-3 Tbsp/day of plant based unsaturated oils, nut or seed butters, salad dressings, non-hydrogenated margarines or mayonnaise, is an easy way to make sure that your young toddler or child is getting enough healthy fat.
Here are some easy ways to start substituting healthy fats into our diet:
- Use olive oil (low heat) or canola oil (higher heat) for cooking, sauteeing and stir-frying, instead of butter.
- Substitute non-hydrogenated margarines such as Becel, into your baking when the recipe calls for butter (or use half and half).
- Serve oily fish at least twice a week instead of higher fat red meats to obtain adequate Omega-3 fats.
- Ditch processed baked goods such as store bought cookies and muffins and replace them with healthier snack options such as an apple with peanut butter, low-fat yogurt and berries, or veggies and hummus.
- Opt for lower fat cooking methods such as baking, grilling, roasting, poaching and broiling.
- Aim for at least 4 servings of veggies per day and 3-4 servings of fruit. Try to get a variety of colours in your produce (at least 3 different colours/day). If you cook your veggies, steaming is best, or lightly cooking with a heart healthy oil or non-hydrogenated margarine works well too.
- Read food labels and compare different products. Choose products with minimal saturated fat, no trans fats and higher unsaturated fat content.
Try choosing 2-3 of these ideas as healthy goals for 2013- your hearts (and kids) will thank you later!
Here are some heart healthy recipes for you to try out!!
Becel Heart Health Survey. The survey was conducted from August 20 to August 23, 2012 by Leger Marketing.