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How to build a balanced diet with healthy dietary fats

Building a balanced diet with healthy fats
Building a balanced diet with healthy fats 04:29

Dietary fats are an essential part of keeping our bodies healthy, according to the American Heart Association. They not only support cell function, but also protect organs and help the body absorb nutrients. But which dietary fats are actually beneficial for your health? Foods rich in unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 

"So what does that mean for the people that don't really care about the molecular structure of a fatty acid?" registered dietitian Samantha Heller said on CBSN. "The fats that are liquid at room temperature. So olive oil, canola oil, oil from nuts and avocado. These unsaturated fats are healthier for our bodies and actually help reduce inflammation and help keep us healthy." 

She added that people should eat less of saturated fats like butter, lard, coconut oil, and bacon fat that are solid at room temperature, as they can increase risk of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. 

Her advice: "Cook with olive oil instead of butter. Put some peanut butter on your bread instead of butter. Have some avocado in your smoothie or mash up an avocado and have it with some crackers as a snack. Include nuts and seeds in your diet. These are all sources of healthy fats and we shouldn't be afraid of them because they're really good for us. And let's face it, they really taste good too."

Heller also recommended a Mediterranean style of eating.

"When you think about the Mediterranean, we're talking cuisines from Italy, Israel, Greece — so there's a huge variety," Heller said. "But what the Mediterranean diet has in common among all of those different cultural cuisines is they use a lot of olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, don't eat a lot of meat or cheese, have lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans are fabulous, lots of nuts and seeds and whole grains. So this type of diet is what organizations like the American Heart Association recommend for people because it can fit your cultural preferences, your food preferences, and your budget. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a healthy diet." 

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