Focus on the Fats for Heart Health
Not all fats are created equal. We need some fat in our diet for several reasons - it is a major source of energy, it helps the body absorb certain vitamins and it also helps our bodies to grow and develop. However, consumption of certain fats has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. So, let’s have a healthy “heart to heart” and learn about the different types of fat and where to find them.
There are four different types of fat found in various foods: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats.
Monounsaturated fats are one type of the good fats. They are liquid at room temperature and are found in olive, canola and other vegetable oils, avocado, and nuts and seeds including almonds and sunflower seeds.
An easy way to increase your intake of monounsaturated fats is to use canola oil when preparing and cooking food, or by making a simple homemade salad dressing by mixing together olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little Dijon mustard. Consuming more nuts and seeds is also a great way to increase your intake of monounsaturated fats – but be sure to choose the unsalted varieties!
Polyunsaturated fats include the essential omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Fatty fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel contain omega-3’s, as do some vegetarian foods such as walnuts and flaxseeds. Omega-3 polyunsaturates are sometimes found in foods like eggs, milk, some juices, and margarines. Be sure to read the product packaging and nutrition labels to find out if a product contains omega-3 polyunsaturates. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are found in most vegetable oils as well as nuts and seeds such as almonds, pecans and sunflower seeds.
Consuming unsaturated fats can contribute positively to health, and Canada’s Food Guide and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommend including a small amount of unsaturated fats each day. Following the Mediterranean diet, which features foods typically consumed in Spain, Greece, Italy and France, may help lower your risk for some chronic diseases, and may help to keep your heart healthy. This diet focuses on vegetables and fruit, whole grains, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. The fats from these foods are mostly unsaturated, rather than saturated.
Saturated and trans fats are the types of fats that should be limited in the diet, because they may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Examples of foods with saturated and trans fats include butter, shortening, lard (and the many baked goods and other dishes made with them) as well as fatty cuts of meat.
If you’re looking for a simple yet delicious recipe featuring unsaturated fats, try this Short-Cut Crostini. It’s a simple twist on the traditional bruschetta and highlights the amazing flavour of fruity olive oil.
Half baguette, thinly sliced
¼ cup (50 mL) PC® Roasted Garlic olive oil
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) each of salt & freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (50 mL) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat broiler.
- Arrange baguette slices on baking sheet. Toast until golden, turn slices and toast on other side.
- Remove from oven. Brush one side with olive oil. Top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and broil until golden.
- Sprinkle with basil, if desired.
Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 170 calories, fat 10 g, sodium 160 mg, carbohydrate 16 g, fibre 2 g, protein 4 g.
Recipe source: pc.ca