Fit Family: How to Choose Healthy Fats

by Mike Levinson

healthy fatsI have preached for years that a lower fat diet is the key to losing weight, managing cholesterol and preventing health problems. But more than just the amount of fat, it’s the types of fat you eat that really matter. Bad fats increase cholesterol and your risk of certain diseases, while good fats protect your heart and support overall health.

Here are some tips on how to choose the best fats for good health:

1. Use liquid vegetable oils for cooking and baking. Olive, canola and other plant-based oils are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Try dressing up a salad or roasted vegetables with an olive oil-based vinaigrette.

2. Avoid trans fat. Read labels to find foods without trans fats. You should also scan the ingredient list to make sure it does not contain partially hydrogenated oils. In restaurants that don’t have nutrition information readily available, avoid fried foods and baked goods. Ask the server how the food is prepared and avoid foods that use palm kernel, coconut and lard. There’s a lot of health “hype” surrounding coconut oil. These claims tout the benefits of coconut oil for everything from weight loss to Alzheimer’s disease. The truth is that there isn’t yet enough scientific evidence to support all of these claims about coconut oil’s potential health benefits.

3. Eat at least one good source of omega-3 fats each day. Fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna), walnuts and canola oil all provide omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that our bodies cannot make.

4. Cut back on red meat and dairy foods. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and try reducing portion sizes of dairy products.

Bottom line- most of the fats you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, like you find in nuts, seeds and avocados. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats in your diet to less than seven percent of your total daily calories and limiting trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. These guidelines have been established because saturated fats, in general, and trans fats are associated with increased total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol, as well as increased risk of coronary artery disease.
Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.  – See more at:

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