Does your diet have enough healthy fat? Here’s how to make sure

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Fat and food: When we hear those words together, we typically think bad things.

However, Sentara Healthcare Registered Dietitian Ashley Moody says eating fat can be good for us.

“When we think about good fats, we often think about monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids,” said Ashley. “All you need to know is that these are fatty acids. When we ingest them, when we eat them, they’re so essential! We need them, that’s why they’re called ‘essential fatty acids.'”

To show our options and see how easy it is to add healthy fats into our routine, Ashley and I worked on making a good, fat-friendly salad. We started off with some spinach and included the basics: carrots, broccoli and tomatoes.

Then, we added the good fat ingredients. Ashley gave me kudos for selecting unsalted almonds.

“You’ve made the healthiest choice,” she said.

Ashley said another good source of healthy fat is avocado.

“Good, healthy unsaturated fatty acids are coming from that avocado,” Ashley explained.

After layering on some avocado, we also tossed in some chia seeds. Ashley said seeds, like chia seeds and flaxseed, are good places to find unsaturated fatty acids.

“So you can see, [from the chia seeds], you’re getting seven grams of those good healthy fats,” said Ashley.

This also brings up the discussion of whether you should eat these seeds whole or ground. For our salad, we went with the ground option.

Ashley suggested some more healthy seed options to include.

“[You can get] a little more healthy fat from your sunflower seeds. This is also going to give you a good texture change in your salad,” she said.

She said there are plenty of other ways to customize your salad, including adding a healthy source of protein.

“If you wanted to up your protein and healthy fat intake any more on this salad, you could also include a pouch of tuna or salmon,” Ashley explained. “So if we look at our nutrition label right here, in particular, you have found one that has sunflower oil added in. Sunflower oil is one of those oils that has a good amount of unsaturated fatty acids.”

On the subject of oils, Ashley mentioned two options to add a little drizzle on our salad.

“Olive oil is a great healthy oil because it tends to have a milder flavor. Avocado oil is a great alternative that still gives you a lot of those good healthy fats,” she said.

So if we keep an eye out for monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats on food labels, or Google foods that are rich in these good fats, what can they do for us? Studies show they help with brain functions and our immune system. They can also reduce bad cholesterol, which can lower our risk for heart disease and stroke.

For additional information from Ashley and her health and wellness links through Optima Health for prevention and wellness, click here. To learn more about Eating for Life, a program with a variety of resources that can help you boost your health, click here.

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