One of the most commonly held weight-loss myths is that eating fat makes you fat. After all, it sounds logical, right? Fortunately, this bit of nutritional advice couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get 20-30 percent of their daily calories from fat. But that doesn’t give you the green light to dig in to your favorite butter-laden pastries. Before you crack open that bag of cookies, read up on a few sources of healthy fats that you can work into your diabetes-friendly diet.
Fats that are good for your heart? It sounds too good to be true. However, when eaten in moderation, polyunsaturated fats–or PUFAs, for short–have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk of developing heart disease. So, what does a serving of PUFAs look like? The American Heart Association recommends loading up on fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and trout) for a heart-healthy meal. You can also sneak some extra PUFAs into your diet by snacking on nuts, soybeans, or flaxseed. Make sure to easy on the portions, though–one small handful of nuts packs in more than 150 calories.
According to the Mayo Clinic, monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs, are a prime weight-loss nutrient, since their filling properties help keep hunger pangs at bay. A diet rich in MUFAs has also been shown to relieve muscle pain and soreness–a helpful benefit for those beginning a new exercise routine. For a MUFA-rich snack, try dipping fresh-cut veggies in a tablespoon of low-sugar nut butter. Peanut and almond offer the most benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are often overlooked when it comes to creating a healthy diet plan. But these heart-healthy fats offer numerous wellness benefits, from lowering blood pressure to improving symptoms of depression. According to WebMD, lean fish are the primary source of Omega-3s. For an easy meal or snack, try canned tuna or salmon in water. If you’re not a seafood fan, scope out your grocery store for foods that are fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids. Some brands of milk, peanut butter, and even popcorn come with an added boost of healthy fats.
Omega-6 fatty acids
The jury is out on whether these fats should be labeled as “healthy.” According to the Mayo Clinic, Omega-6s have been shown to improve brain function, promote muscle health, and reduce insulin resistance. On the other hand, these fats have also been linked to inflamed arteries. The American Heart Association recommends you go easy here with 5-10 percent of your daily calories coming from Omega 6 fatty acids. For a low-carb, portion-controlled snack, reach for a handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Eggs are also an excellent source of Omega-6s. To cut back on calories, skip fried or scrambled eggs in exchange for hard boiled ones.
Photo courtesy of Steffen Zahn on Flickr