olive oil good fats photo

Olive oil, avocado, and nuts have become a mainstay of a healthy diet, but can you have too much of a good thing, even if it’s an unsaturated fat?

Heart disease, which is often associated with high fat diets, kills more people than any other chronic disease. While saturated fats (found mostly in animal products like meats, eggs, and dairy) bear the brunt of the negative image, good fats can also be overdone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 2-3 should get 30-40 percent of calories from fat, children and adolescents ages 4-18 should get 25-35 percent of their calories from fat, and adults ages 19 and older should get 20-35 percent. No more than 10 percent of calories should come from saturated fat sources.

Most of the fats that you eat should come from good fats or unsaturated sources like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

  • Monounsaturated fat sources include nuts, vegetable oils, canola oil, olive oil, high oleic safflower oil, sunflower oil, and avocado.
  • Omega 6 polyunsaturated fat sources include soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.
  • Omega 3 polyunsaturated fat sources include walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and fatty fish like herring, trout, and salmon.

The body needs, but cannot make, both omega 6 polyunsaturated fats and omega 3 polyunsaturated fats. Most of us get more than our fair share of omega 6 fats because they’re found in vegetable oils, processed baked goods, and peanuts. But many of us do not get enough omega 3 fatty acids, which have been found to have additional health benefits including prevention of heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

While these calorie-dense foods may have ample health benefits, they shouldn’t be eaten in excess. Keep track of the fats that you eat in your diet if you have a history of heart disease or you’re looking to lose weight. Choose omega 3 fatty acids as much as possible and eat foods like olive oils, olives, and nuts daily but don’t indulge in them the same way that you enjoy fruits and vegetables.

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Image: USDA.gov