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What type of fats should I eat?

Fats are an important part of a healthy diet. Rather than adopting a low-fat diet you should focus on eating “good” fats and avoiding the “bad” fats. The beneficial, “good” fats are generally the unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Not only do they help lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but they also provide us with added satiety, improve taste and texture, slow absorption of other nutrients and provide a great source of energy.

You should aim to get as much of your fat macros from MUFAs and PUFAs as possible. A small palmful of nuts and seeds, a drizzle of healthy oil on your salad, and eating plenty of fish will provide you with enough of the unsaturated fats in your diet. Remember you also want to try and get a good amount of Omega-3 in your diet – try to vary your fat sources and eat some oily fish at least twice a week (such as mackerel, sardines, tuna and salmon).

Saturated fats are “OK” in moderation. They are generally less healthy than unsaturated fats and so you should aim to get no more than ten precent of your daily calories from them. You can try to eat foods that are enriched with plant sterols instead of saturated fats (such as margarine spreads, reduced fat yoghurts and breakfast cereals) which will also help protect against heart disease. And trans fats are the harmful, “bad” fats that you should try to cut out trans fats altogether - which is not too hard to do if you limit your intake of processed foods, commercial snacks, and fast food.

As a rule of thumb, you should aim to get 30% of your daily calories from fats. Try to focus on eating mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated and Omega-3 rich fatty foods. Keep your saturated fat intake to below ten percent of your total daily calories, your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day and avoid all types of trans fats.

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