Good Fats, Good Life

Great news: You don’t have to avoid dietary fat to stay healthy. I have a number of tasty suggestions to incorporate good fats into your diet. Ready to dig in?

Want to make your meals and snacks more satisfying? One key dietary tweak: Get your fix of good fats.

The fats to focus on: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These unsaturated fats are found in the delicious foods below:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocado
  • Some types of fish, like salmon and sardines
  • Plant-based oils (olive, canola, etc.), which can also be found in buttery spreads

Good fats are a source of essential fatty acids and may help maintain heart health when used in place of similar amounts of saturated fat in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, an important type of polyunsaturated fat, are found in plant sources like walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and plant-based oils, as well as in certain fish.

How much of these fats do you need? I recommend including a good fat in meals and snacks whenever possible to replace saturated fat. Check out my simple swaps below that make it easy and delicious to incorporate better-for-you fats into your daily diet.

Instead of: Prime rib  
Fat fix: Salmon

A restaurant portion of prime rib (typically 8 ounces) can set you back more than 890 calories and nearly 30 grams of saturated fat, according to the USDA. A better selection: Salmon. Prepare a 6-ounce portion at home for a fraction of the calories and saturated fat, while providing your body with heart-healthy omega-3 fats.

Need some delicious salmon suggestions? Try my Pesto Salmon with Roasted Artichoke Hearts (which also includes walnuts and olive oil; both contain good-for-you fats) or this Grilled Salmon with Citrus Salsa recipe featuring buttery spreads made with plant-based oils.

Instead of: Cookies 
Fat fix: Trail mix

If you normally satisfy your sweet tooth with a cookie or other baked treat, reprogram your selection.

A better bite: Homemade trail mix. You’ll get a hit of natural sweetness from dried fruit (choose your favorite kind, including raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots) and a source of good fats from the nuts (I love almonds and peanuts, but cashews, walnuts and pecans also work well) and seeds (sunflower or pumpkin). Combine with some whole-grain cereal for a satisfying snack that has some staying power.

Why am I such a nut about nuts? A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests there may be many advantages to consuming almonds. In the study, two groups followed a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. The only difference: their snack selection—one group noshed on 1.5 ounces of almonds (about 35 almonds), while the other group enjoyed a high-carb snack of a banana muffin that contained the same number of calories. Both groups lowered their total cholesterol and bad cholesterol at the end of the 12 weeks, but the nut group saw greater improvements in these areas along with other beneficial effects. This is an interesting result and worth more research, but it’s certainly good news for almonds.

Get a little nutty with my homemade Tasty Trail Mix.

Instead of: Stick butter
Fat fix: Buttery spreads

Need a flavor enhancer for veggies? Looking for a tasty topper for whole grain toast? Want to bake delicious muffins? Searching for an ingredient for creamy sauces? Buttery spreads are a better option than stick butter.

A tablespoon of stick butter has 100 calories and 11 grams of total fat, 7 grams of which are saturated.

Buttery spreads offer the same tasty flavor for far less. When choosing a buttery spread, look for products made from simple ingredients with no artificial preservatives, no partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and 0g trans fat per serving. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Original fits the bill and contains 60 calories and 6 g of total fat per tablespoon—just 2 of which are saturated. As a bonus, the plant-based oil spread also delivers a good source of essential fatty acids—omega-3 ALA.

Check out this yummy recipe I recently created with buttery spreads: Mini Spring Veggie and Avocado Frittatas recipe.

For more information on good fats, visit


Disclosure: Compensation for this post was provided by Unilever. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Unilever.