June 2, 2022

The Skinny on Fat

Keeping up with the latest news on fat can give you serious whiplash. On Monday morning, it’s the cause of ALL diseases. By Tuesday afternoon, you need more fish oil! What gives? Not all fats are created equal. The key is knowing which ones to avoid.

You need fat. Full stop.

You get energy from it. It helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. You need it to make hormones. It protects your organs. And get this, healthy fats lower your odds of getting heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Clearly, fat isn’t the bad guy. Well, not all fats. 

Meet the friendly fats 

You wouldn’t want these fats in a spelling bee, but you do want them on your plate:

  • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats boost your good cholesterol and lower the bad. That’s a big win-win for your health. 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids raise your good cholesterol. Your body can’t make these fats, so you have to get them from the food you eat.

And now, your frenemies

Just to be clear, a frenemy is a friend and enemy all wrapped into one. These fats are tasty, but not good for you: 

  • Saturated fats raise your good and bad cholesterol. Confusing, right? Bad cholesterol is always something to avoid, so limit these fats. 
  • Trans fats lower good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol. That’s a double whammy. Avoid these fats.

Let’s talk healthy habits

Here are some tips to get more healthy fats — and fewer unhealthy fats — in your diet:

  • Choose lean protein like chicken, fish, lean pork, tofu, and tempeh 
  • Try skim milk, nonfat yogurt, low-fat cheeses, or non-dairy options like almond milk
  • Eat fatty fish, like tuna or salmon, 1 to 2 times a week
  • Buy canned tuna in water instead of oil
  • Steam, bake, or broil food instead of frying
  • Remove the skin and trim the fat from meat before cooking
  • Drain the fat after cooking ground meat
  • Limit foods with trans and saturated fats (check the nutrition label — these fats will be listed) 

To reduce saturated and trans fats in our diet, cut down on:

  • Fried foods donuts, french fries, chicken strips, and mozzarella sticks
  • Processed foods — pie crust, frozen pizza, biscuits, crackers, cookies, and stick margarine
  • Certain meats — beef, lamb, pork (lean cuts are OK)
  • Certain dairy products — butter, cheese, ice cream
  • Tropical oils — palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil

Swap in good fats for bad

Making wholesale changes to how you eat can feel overwhelming. One way to keep it simple is to find quick, tasty substitutions. Instead of ground beef, choose ground turkey. Skip the chicken thighs with skin and go with skinless chicken breast. Coconut oil? Not anymore — olive or avocado oil is your new best friend. 

With dairy, see if you can work your way down to less fat. If you use whole milk now, drop to 2% for a while. Then 1%. Then skim. And instead of sour cream, give nonfat plain Greek yogurt a try.

How much fat to eat

First, use this calculator to see how many calories to get each day. For most people, you want about 30% of your calories from fat. So, if you need:

  • 1,500 calories a day, eat about 50 grams of fat
  • 2,000 calorie a day, eat about 67 grams of fat 
  • 2,500 calories a day, eat about 83 grams of fat

And how much is a gram? Each of these has about 5 grams of fat:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon salad dressing, mayonnaise, cream cheese
  • 4 walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 1.5  teaspoons peanut butter
  • 8 to 10 olives

Your Firefly care team is here to help

If you need support with healthier eating, your care team is ready and waiting! Book a visit today or speak with your health guide to get personalized tips. Not a member yet? Get started by signing up below, taking our quiz, or calling us at (855) 869-9284 to see if our continuous, coordinated care model is right for you.

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