July 1, 2010

How To Eat More of the Good Fats like Omega-3

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 5:36 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Picture from http://www.fda.gov

Heart-healthy living means cutting out all the fat, right?  Not true!  Some fats are actually beneficial for your heart.  The problem is figuring out what to eat so that the good fats far outweigh the bad.  Here’s a simple list that will help you differentiate the good from the bad:

Bad Fats

  1. Saturated Fat
  2. Trans Fat

Good Fats

  1. Omega-3 Fats
  2. Polyunsaturated Fats
  3. Monounsaturated Fats

The good fats such as Omega-3 have been shown to lower the chances of another heart attack AND improve cholesterol numbers.  Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known to raise HDL, the good cholesterol.  This is the reason why the American Heart Association recommends at least 2 servings of fish per week.  Fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, anchovy, herring and mackerel are very high in Omega-3 fats.

Many food products are now advertising their heart-health benefits on the label.  You can easily check for yourself if a product really is heart-healthy by looking at the nutrition facts and making sure that there is very little or no saturated and trans fats per serving. Certain oils such as canola and olive oil are low in saturated fats but high in the good fats. Unfortunately, the nutrition facts do not yet include some of the more important healthy facts such as Omega-3’s and whole grains.  The only way you will know how much Omega-3’s are in an item is if the company voluntarily lists it.  The brand Smart Balance sells multiple products such as butter spread, oil, sour cream, milk and peanut butter that have added Omega-3’s and they list the amount right on the label.

You’ll want to watch out for some of the common foods that are very high in saturated fats such as: regular cheese (especially cheddar), whole milk, coconut oil, butter, ice cream and some chocolate bars.

Now, here is a specific list of foods that are high in the good fat, Omega-3.  The amount of Omega-3 obtained from www.nutritiondata.com is listed in parentheses:

  1. Flaxseed oil (12,059mg)
  2. Dried butternuts (2,850mg)
  3. Wild, raw salmon (2,843mg)
  4. Walnuts (2776mg)
  5. Fresh basil (2747mg)
  6. Spinach (2183mg)
  7. Canola oil (2,067mg)

Hopefully now you have a better idea of how to determine healthy foods.  Next time you are planning a heart-healthy meal, remember to look at the nutrition facts and manage your fat intake like an expert!

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