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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Healthy Fats 101

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A bottle of olive oil being poured onto a spoon.
What do you think of when you hear the word “fat?” Chances are you aren’t thinking “nutritious” or “good for me.” When most people hear this word, they think of things like “weight gain,” “unhealthy,” and “harmful.”  But certain fats are actually an essential part of a healthy diet and can be very good for you!  It’s just all about portion and choosing the right types.

Here are some tips on adding the “right fats” to your diet:

Avoid saturated and trans fats

Saturated and trans fats are the types of fats that may be harmful to your health. These fats raise cholesterol and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Limit intake of foods such as high fat meats, whole dairy foods like whole milk, ice cream, and cheese, fried foods, stick margarine and many baked goods.

Eat Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are those that are necessary in the body. They include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These types provide important fatty acids and may help lower cholesterol. They can be found in foods like nuts and nut butters, seeds, olive oil, and avocado.  Look for fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, herring, and rainbow trout to get omega-3 fats.

Be Aware of Portion Sizes

Regardless of what type of fat you’re eating, portion size is very important. Even the healthy fats are high in calories, racking up 120 calories for only 2 tablespoons of oil (yes, even olive oil!). 

Not sure what a tablespoon looks like? Do this little experiment. Take out a measuring spoon and measure out a tablespoon of oil. Pour that into a little dish that you might use to dip your bread. Get a tissue because you are going to cry when you see how little a tablespoon really is!

Fats don’t have to be scary; they are important to your health and can benefit you in many ways. Keep your health in check with fats that come from plant or fish sources and watch your portion sizes for a healthy intake of this important nutrient. 

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Tags: Healthy Fats , Nutrition

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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