In this episode of Fresh Focus, MOVE! Dietitian Sieger Giroux provides insight on saturated and unsaturated fats and how listeners can incorporate those into the healthy plate method.
Fat has had a very strange, political, and controversial history. In order to get down to what’s important, we need to navigate through the confusion.
Fat is one of our macronutrients (along with protein and carbohydrates), and it is an essential part of our intake. It has many functions within the body, including organ protection, providing fuel, coating nerve cells, making up organs (our brains are roughly 60% fat), making up cells (lipid bilayer), nutrient and phytochemical absorption, skin/hair/nail health, and hormone balance.
As with anything diet related, the first step is to evaluate the source of your food. Are you eating mostly real, whole foods from nature, or processed, refined foods from the grocery store shelf? Good sources of fat are going to come from those whole food options.
- Continue to eat real, whole foods, and follow a system (such as the healthy plate) to guide you to a balanced intake.
- Include good fats, such as from olives and olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, coconut oil, eggs, dairy, minimally processed meat, and even butter (especially if it’s grass fed and organic). Remember that, although we shouldn’t fear fat from animals, we should still get plenty of it from antioxidant-rich plant-based foods. Balance is important.
- Avoid the following: fast food, fried foods, heavily processed meats, processed/packaged foods – like TV dinners and box meals – refined sugars and sweets (including sugar from fluids); highly processed vegetables oils, such as soy, corn, safflower, as well as Crisco and other hydrogenated oils.
The fat sources we choose, as well as the overall quality of our diet and lifestyle, will make a huge difference on whether that fat will be helpful or harmful. Eat well!
Sieger Giroux MS, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian at the Marion VA.