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Fats and Oils - A Little Goes a Long Way

July 31, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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Fats are an important part of healthy eating - they provide energy, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K and are needed by every cell in your body. However, a little fat goes a long way. The kind of fat is just as important as the amount.

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide, recommends including a small amount (about 30-45 mL or 2-3 tablespoons) of plant-based or unsaturated fats each day. Here are some examples of healthy fats - use these healthy oils in cooking and for salads. 

  • Avocado  
  • Canola oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Fatty Fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines)
  • Flaxseed
  • Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts)
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Peanut butter
  • Safflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Pumpkin seeds and oil; sunflower seeds and oil

In recipes that call for shortening, butter, hard margarine or lard you can substitute unsaturated fats like, soft margarine or oils (such as canola oil) which are lower in saturated and trans fats.

Watch our VIDEO "Shopping Sense - Best Buys in Fats and Oils" for money saving tips when shopping for these items in the grocery store.

Tackling Trans Fat

Industrially produced trans fats are formed when liquid oils are made into semi-solid fats like shortening, lard and hard margarine. These fats along with saturated fats have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. You can reduce your risk by limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats.  Check the Nutrition Facts table on margarine and choose soft non-hydrogenated brands that have 2 g or less of saturated and trans fat combined. Limit hard margarines, shortening and lard, as they are high in saturated fat and/or trans fat.

SODIUM MATTERS WITH FATS AND OILS

Most fats and oils are sodium free - but there are some tips for the exceptions:

  • Choose unsalted nuts, natural nut butters and unsalted pumpkin and sunflower seeds to get a good source of healthy fat without the sodium. 
  • Add unsalted nuts and seeds to salads for an extra crunch.
  • Look for "sodium reduced" or "sodium free" salad dressings, or make your own at home without the salt using a variety of herbs and salt-free seasonings.
  • Buy unsalted butter and margarine as spreads for bread and in cooking.
  • While olives are a great source of healthy fat, they are loaded with sodium; use them sparingly as a condiment.
  • For more information, check out our blogs: Nine Oils to Know, Butter vs Margarine and Coconut Oil.
Watch our VIDEO "Shopping Sense - Best Buys in Fats and Oils" for money saving tips when shopping for these items in the grocery store.
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