Nutrition 101: Fats

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal)  What are the building blocks of a good diet?  Dr. Laura Christoph, Professor of Nutrition showed us how fat works in our diets.


What is it: fat is an energy providing macronutrient, containing 9 Calories per gram. We usually talk about fat and health by talking about the fatty acids, including saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat. We usually talk about “healthy fats” as those that are higher In omega 3 rich polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat.

Why is it important? Many of our hormones are made of fat and it helps coat our nerves and provides cushioning for our organs. It makes our skin and nails and hair shine and also gives us a long term source of energy.

Where do we find it?

  • Monounsaturated fat: olive oil, peanuts;
  • Polyunsaturated fat: omega 3’s: walnuts, flax and fish/omega 6’s: soybean oil, corn oil, nuts and seeds; saturated fat: meat and dairy, as well as coconut and palm kernel oil.

How much do we need? We need around 20-35 percent of our total Calories from fat, according to the 2015 dietary guidelines. Less than 10 percent of total calories should come from saturated fat, in order to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent recommendations about cholesterol have relaxed a bit, as it is not as strongly linked to disease as we once thought!

Design your daily meals:

  • Try packing in healthy fats throughout the day by focusing on omega 3’s and monounsaturated fat at each meal!
  • Breakfast: try this filling bread made with almond flour and flax and oil rather than than flour and butter:
  • Lunch: dress your salad with olive oil and an infused vinegar for flavor rather than store bought dressing. Try to avoid creamy dressings, and opt for some monounsaturated rich avocados if you want some creamy texture.
  • Dinner: think fish! In summertime, it is great to spend some time grilling! Try prepping some veggies tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and grill up some fish. While our traditional grill items like burgers and hot dogs are full of saturated fat, this choice is high in healthy fats!
  • Dessert: try some pudding made with cocoa and avocado rather than going for saturated fat rich desserts.




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