It’s pretty uncommon to see the word “healthy” and “fat” in the same sentence, right? But it’s true, some fats are healthy!
When researchers first began to study the relationship between fat and breast cancer, they initially thought all fat was bad and that a low fat diet was the way to go.
A lot has changed since then. Over the years, researchers have discovered that the type of fat you eat may have a bigger influence on cancer risk. **note – amount still matters. Eating too many healthy fats can have negative health consequences too.
Healthy Cancer Fighting Fats (eat more of these)
- Omega 3 fatty acids. Found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, canola oil, walnuts, and walnut oil. Omega 3’s are very important for breast cancer prevention because they have been shown to balance estrogen levels, decrease breast cancer cell growth, and decrease spreading of breast cancer cells. They also help decrease any chronic inflammation that may be present in the body. *fish high in omega 3’s – wild salmon from Alaska, Artic char, wild caught sardines, anchovies, oysters, rainbow trout.
- Monounsaturated fats. Found in olive oil, avocado, nuts, nut butters, and seeds. Some research suggests that the oleic acid found in olive oil may help reduce breast cancer risk.
Unhealthy Fats (eat less of these)
- Saturated fats. In general, saturated fat is highest in foods that come from animals. Here are some foods high in saturated fat: butter, cream, cheese, beef, and whole milk.
- Trans-fats. These fats are created through a process called hydrogenation. Check the back of food labels and avoid anything made with “partially hydrogenated oil”, or “hydrogenated oil”. Trans-fats are found in fried foods, pastry, pie crusts, store bought cookies and granola bars, margarine, and shortening.
- Omega 6 fats. High in safflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils. Small amounts of omega 6 fats are actually healthy and necessary in the diet, but it’s important that you eat more omega 3 fats than omega 6 fats.
Healthy Cooking Oils
- Olive oil and canola oil are great “go to” cooking oils to have in your kitchen at all times. They will be able to meet most of your cooking needs, and also work great for salad dressings.
- Flaxseed oil and walnut oil need to be kept cold and are not good for cooking. If you want to use them, they work great in salad dressings.
7 Ways to Incorporate Healthy Fats
- Use nut butter on your morning toast instead of regular butter. I like to use almond butter!
- Add chopped avocado to your scrambled eggs instead of cheddar cheese. Cook your eggs in olive oil or canola oil instead of butter.
- Try sardines on crackers for a healthy snack or appetizer.
- Add chopped walnuts and/or seeds to your salads.
- Try incorporating a fish dish once per week. I have a salmon cake recipe you might like!
- Add a teaspoon of flaxseeds or chia seeds to your smoothies.
- Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, walnut oil, or flaxseed oil.
I would love to hear your ideas — Can you think of any more ways to add healthy fats to your diet? Leave your suggestions in the comments box below.
photo by: jurvetson on Flickr