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The Skinny On Healthy Fats

...And How To Enjoy Them

When it comes to keeping the body healthy and properly functioning, fat is an essential nutrient, one that helps protect vital organs, provides energy, maintains the health of skin and hair, and more. And for optimum health, it's also important to choose healthier unsaturated fats over saturated or trans fats, and to enjoy these healthier fats in moderation, as too much fat—or too much of certain types of fat—can be harmful to the body.

The good news is that the healthier unsaturated fats—monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids—can be found in a variety of delicious, satisfying foods that add tons of flavor, texture and variety to a well balanced diet. When enjoyed in moderate amounts and in place of bad fats (which can increase the risk of heart disease), unsaturated fats can help keep your heart healthy. And they're fantastic to eat! To incorporate more unsaturated fats into your diet, turn to these favorites:

Olive Oil

Healthy fats are an important part of any diet, and olive oil is one of the healthiest oils you can buy. It is rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats, which help reduce oxidation in the body. But olive oil is not only a healthy choice, it is a delicious one too; extra-virgin olive oil has a delicately nutty, fruity flavor that complements many foods and recipes, from pasta sauces to salad dressings. Other oils that offer monounsaturated fats: canola and peanut oils.


Nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts are the perfect satisfying snack, offering terrific crunch and great taste, in addition to beneficial monounsaturated fats. Nuts help in other ways too! Almonds, for example, are a source of manganese, while the magnesium in cashews can help contribute to bone health.

Fish & Seafood

In general, fresh seafood is one of the most nutritionally balanced foods. It is an excellent source of proteins, and a good source of minerals and vitamins. Seafood is low in cholesterol and sodium, and many varieties are very low in fat. Certain kinds of fish higher in fat than others (like salmon) also contain omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats, found mostly in fish and seafood, are believed to help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.

By enjoying foods that contain unsaturated fats (in moderation), and limiting the consumption of foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat, you can help improve the quality of your diet and your health. Need a little inspiration? Try some of these tasty suggestions.

When fixing a salad, substitute homemade olive oil vinaigrette for creamy dressing, and add great flavor with slivered almonds instead of bacon bits or shredded cheese.

•  Give some variety to your weekly menu with fresh fish or seafood. Consider enjoying smoked salmon for breakfast, or serve up seafood—instead of steak—at your next special occasion or weeknight supper.

•  Use olive oil in place of butter whenever possible! It's great for sautéed vegetables and delicious with hearty, wholegrain crusty bread.

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Key Terms in This Article
magnesium - an essential mineral in human nutrition with a... more >
manganese - Apart from its uses in rare overt deficiency... more >
monounsaturated fat - helps lower bad cholesterol and boosts good... more >
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olive oil
omega-3 fatty acids
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