Friendly Fats: An Overview of 4 Types of Fats

Last updated: September 2022

If you were around the 90s, you might remember that back then, fat was a big no-no according to the diet industry. A low-fat diet was the trend, and you better believe products on grocery store shelves rebranded to follow suit. Your favorite cookies? Now low-fat. Your go-to crackers? Also low-fat.

Bread, soups, you name it, there was a low-fat option. Over the years, nutrition experts like registered dietitians have learned that they had it wrong. Not only is fat acceptable to consume in a balanced diet but there are many fat sources that are necessary for bodily functions!

If you are concerned about your nutritional needs or if you have high cholesterol and are worried about adding fats to your eating plan, please speak with your physician or registered dietitian.

What are the different types of fats?

When you are living with type diabetes, including those "friendly fats" in your eating plan can be a great way to reach satisfaction in a meal, as well as curb blood sugar spikes. Let's check it out.

Fats can be broken down into 4 subcategories:

  1. Monounsaturated fats
  2. Polyunsaturated fats
  3. Saturated fats
  4. Trans fats

Limit saturated and trans fats

Saturated fats are typically in animal-based foods such as butter, bacon, and chicken skin. Trans fats are found in baked goods such as muffins and margarine. Saturated and trans fats should be consumed in limited amounts or avoided as often as possible since they can lead to high cholesterol.

What are the friendly fats?

For our purposes, we will focus on healthier fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Today, these are considered beneficial fats.

Monounsaturated fats

Unlike their saturated counterparts, monounsaturated fats are actually positive for our cardiovascular health. They can help lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in our body, which is the "lousy" cholesterol.1

Although these fats are not listed on nutrition labels, if you know what foods are high in monounsaturated fat content, it can be easy to include them in your diabetes eating plan.

Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and cashews, as well as nut butter, are great sources of monounsaturated fats. Other sources include olives, olive oil, avocados, and avocado oil. Some ways to incorporate these ingredients into your meals may be enjoying peanut butter on a whole grain English muffin for breakfast and using avocado oil when cooking eggs or roasting vegetables.

Polyunsaturated fats

Again, these powerhouse polyunsaturated fats have positive health benefits for our hearts. You may be more familiar with these 2 popular types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Some types of fish, such as salmon and sardines, are great sources of polyunsaturated fat.1

If you want to add these fats to your nutrition plan without eating seafood, flax seeds or chia seeds also contain polyunsaturated fats. Some ways to add these to your eating plan include adding salmon to a salad or sprinkling some ground flax seeds onto your morning oatmeal.

Feeling full, staying satiated

Another added benefit of including healthy fats in your regular eating plan is that they have satisfaction power. Eating a meal that contains a balance of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and these "friendly" fats can really help you feel fuller for longer.

Consider trying a turkey breast sandwich on a whole grain wrap with avocado and fresh baby spinach. Alternatively, a salad with grilled chicken, pears, and almonds on top gives the flavor, crunch, and fulfillment.

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