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Good fats

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Good fats
If you cut out all sources of fat from your diet, you would soon run into problems. Fat is a source of energy, provides essential fatty acids and helps our bodies to transport and absorb certain vitamins. Fat also adds flavour to our food and helps us feel full for longer.

There are two main types of 'good' fats that you should actively try to include in your diet.

Monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats are mainly found in plant sources. Olive oil, peanut oil and groundnut oil all contain monounsaturated fats as do nuts and avocados. A Mediterranean-style diet, which supposedly helps contribute to a long life, is full of monounsaturated fats.

This is because, experts believe, monounsaturated fats actually help to reduce the risk of heart disease and lowering bad cholesterol.

To increase your intake of monounsaturated fats, use olive oil when you're cooking and snack on avocadoes and nuts (particularly almonds and Brazil nuts) at least two or three times a week. As with all fats, though, don't overdo monounsaturated fats. A small handful of nuts is enough!

Polyunsaturated fats
Another group of fats that causes a lot of confusion is polyunsaturated fats.

These are found mostly in grain products, fish and seafood. Good sources of these fats include sunflower, vegetable and linseed oils, walnuts, green leafy vegetables and oily fish such as trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines and herrings.

Experts believe polyunsaturated fats help your body get rid of newly formed cholesterol, reducing deposits in artery walls. These fats are also important as they contain a special family of essential fatty acids that your body can't produce for itself. This family includes Omega 3 and Omega 6.

The Food Standards Agency recommends you should eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be an oily fish such as sardines, mackerel or salmon.

Like all fats, though, even polyunsaturated fats are high in calories and should be eaten in moderation.

Don't worry about the science!
You really don't have to remember what all these terms mean. Just follow these simple rules to make sure you're getting enough 'good' fats and not too many 'bad' fats.

Continued below...


• Cut down on processed or factory-made food like ready meals.
• Keep cakes, biscuits and pastry as occasional treats.
• Switch to low-fat versions of dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese. Drink semi-skimmed milk instead of full-fat.
• Trim the fat off meat before eating it.
• Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. Green leafy vegetables are particularly good.
• Eat oily fish (trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines or herrings) at least once a week.
• Snack on nuts once or twice a week, particularly Brazil nuts or almonds.
• Switch from butter to a low-fat spread on toast and bread. Whenever possible, don't use anything at all, for example when using sloppy sandwich fillings.

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