We live in a “low-fat” world,
where everything from candy to TV
dinners comes in low-fat versions. The
truth is some fat has had a bad rap. “We
need to eat fat,” says Greta Kubis, a High
River-based public health nutritionist
with Alberta Health Services’ Nutrition
Services. “It is required for optimal
health. We need some small amounts of
fat in our diet, and we need specific fat in
our diet.” What we need are “good” fats.
“Good fats are unsaturated fats,” Kubis
explains. And they come in two forms:
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
Polyunsaturated fats are commonly advertised as omega- 3 or omega- 6 fatty acids.
Good sources of unsaturated fats include
seeds, nuts, grains, fish and vegetable
oils, such as canola, olive and soybean oil.
Canola oil, for example, is high in monounsaturated fats, omega- 3 and omega- 6 and
has the lowest level of saturated fat of all
vegetable oils. Dairy products also contain
Why the low-fat fad?
Some foods with good fat
• Vegetable oils:;canola,;olive,;peanut,;corn,;sunflower,;sesame;and;flaxseed
that young children drink fuller fat milk.
”Children need concentrated sources of
energy. As they grow older, you can look
at switching them to two or one percent
milk,” says Lee Finell, an Edmonton-based registered dietitian and nutrition
educator with Alberta Milk.
Good fats can also protect against
heart disease, for example, by reducing
inflammation in the arteries of the heart,
and reducing blood pressure. Some types
of fat are converted to other compounds,
including hormones. In children, healthy
fats are crucial to overall growth and
brain and vision development.
Getting the right fats into your diet
isn’t just a good idea — it’s essential.
“We call them essential fatty acids for a
reason,” Kubis says. Too little of them
can lead to reproductive problems, skin
abnormalities and, contrary to what
many think, heart disease. Kubis adds
fat is also needed to carry and absorb
fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K — all
very important to health.
When making healthy fats a part
of your diet, think fresh. You can use
unsaturated fats in cooking or baking,
but they are healthiest with a minimum
of processing and cooking. This means
using canola or vegetable oil is not a
good excuse to start deep-frying.
To get the most benefits out of
healthy fats, eat them in moderation.
“We need to eat fat, but people have the
tendency to eat more than we need,”
says Kubis. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating between 30 and 45 ml
(two and three tablespoons) of unsaturated fats each day. That includes the fat
in dairy, meat, fish and any oils used for
cooking. — Abby;Miller