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On Your Table Blog

March 15, 2021

Good fat, bad fat

Good fat, bad fat

Photo by Hana Brannigan from Pexels

By Elizabeth Magee, LRD, RD

We’re halfway through National Nutrition Month! I’m sure everyone has been SUPER busy celebrating such an exciting time of year!

Or not, that’s fine too. But I do know everyone has been eating. Obviously. I’m waiting on my husband to make scallops and fish tacos as we speak. I love fish tacos. And I love when my husband cooks. Will I eat them mindfully? No. I will for sure eat one too many and then probably plant myself on the couch. And I’m not even going to care.

So how should we celebrate this fine month’s post? By talking about fat of course!

I remember a time when everything was being marketed as “fat free” or reduced fat. Fat free salad dressing? Ewww. We were under the impression we needed to avoid fat. Well, all that changed. We know we need fat. We just need the right kind (we’re really good at getting the wrong kinds). Fat does a lot of things other than add flavor; it helps us absorb certain vitamins (A,D,E and K if you’re dying to know). Fats provide energy, they make up our cell walls, it insulates our bodies as well as our organs and it provides essential fatty acids our bodies can’t make.

What even qualifies as healthy fat? It sounds like an oxymoron. Liquid fat is generally healthier than solid fat. Think olive oil and canola oil over butter or margarine. This always leads to the question of what’s better, butter or margarine – BUTTER, always butter. Avocados are full of super healthy fats. Fish – even your canned tuna will count. Nuts – just remember to watch your serving sizes. Flax seeds -a N.D. product!! Even eggs - yes eggs. Eggs have been bad in the past, but current research shows that they are good for us! The cholesterol in our food doesn’t necessarily affect our blood cholesterol.

What are the unhealthy fats? Trans fats, they aren’t supposed to be in our food anymore, but I still usually check. And they’re bad because they lower your good cholesterol and raise your bad cholesterol. Eating fried foods? That’s unhealthy fat. I’m still not on board with coconut oil; I think using liquid fats is healthier, but sometimes people choose coconut oil for the flavor. I put it on my feet. So there’s that.

How much healthy fat do you need? More than you are thinking. Twenty to thirty-five percent of your total calories should come from fat. Now to put that in perspective, if you’re eating 2,000 calsories aday that’s 44-77 g/day.

Can you ever eat a fat that’s not a healthy one? For sure. Those things are going to happen. That’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up. But focus on getting the healthy ones in, trying to replace butter with a liquid fat, you might even like it! Try to eat fish more – if you like fish.

Go slow, make swaps, get creative, find something new!! You may be surprised. I eat eggs and avocados almost every day and I feel good I’m getting a great start to my day with my healthy fats!

Elizabeth Magee is a registered licensed dietitian and loves chips and salsa! Elizabeth Magee is a licensed registered dietitian. Her posts appear monthly on OYT.

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