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Your Good Fats Needs

What are Your Good Fats Goals?

Your Good Fats Needs

A healthy and balanced diet needs to include good fats to nourish your brain, heart, and cells. But just how much is heart-healthy?
In an average 2,000-calorie diet, the USDA recommends consuming 22-55 grams (or 10-25% of your daily calories) of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats daily to ensure that you’re maintaining heart-healthy habits.

Daily Needs Planner

Looking to Make Smart Choices About Good Fats?

A healthy and balanced diet needs to include good fats to nourish your brain, heart, and cells. But how much is too much (or too little)?

To help maintain a heart-healthy diet, the USDA recommends devoting 10-25% of your daily caloric intake to “good fats.” Good fats can be defined as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are also referred to as Omega-3, -6, and -9.
The Good Fats Daily Needs Planner will help you choose which foods and how much to eat to help you meet that goal.

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What should be on your good fats shopping list? Options can be found throughout the grocery store. It is easy to make smart, heart-healthy choices by knowing what key foods contain good fats, and by reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists. Use this guide to navigate the aisles and choose the best options to fill your cart with good fats.

This fruit is rich in monounsaturated (omega-9) fats and also contains fiber, vitamins and minerals. Picking the perfect avocado can be a bit tricky, since color doesn’t necessarily indicate ripeness. Use these tips to select a good fruit:

Instead of relying solely on color, select avocados that are firm, but yield to gentle pressure.

If you purchase an unripe avocado, speed up the ripening process by placing it in a paper bag at room temperature. Store ripe avocados in the refrigerator.

These heart-healthy gems are loaded with nutrition, including monounsaturated fat and antioxidants. Need ideas to incorporate more olives into your diet? Our tips are sure to provide you with a little culinary inspiration.

Take a walk down the grocery aisle and it is easy to see the cooking oil options are endless! So which ones are best? Choose oils high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, containing less saturated fat and no trans-fat. Beyond your cooking oil, these healthy oils are an ingredient in many other products in your refrigerator and pantry, such as sauces, dressings and spreads.

Pick: Canola, soybean, olive, sunflower, safflower, peanut, corn oil
Skip: Tropical oils, such as palm, palm kernel, which are high in saturated

Nuts and Seeds
Whether you choose almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds or peanut butter, they all contain good fats!

These nutrition powerhouses supply a healthy combination of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, along with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here are some delicious options to try:

Nuts: Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts
Seeds: Chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, wheat germ
Nut Butters: Almond, peanut, walnut, sunflower

Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that has been tied to several health benefits. How do you know which fish contain these beneficial fats? Choose darker fleshed fish over light, white colored fish, such as cod and pollock. Good options include herring, mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna. You can buy fresh fish at the meat counter or opt for frozen filets in the freezer section.

For canned or packaged foods, it is important to read the labels to determine what kind of fats those products contain. Use these tips to make good choices:

  • Check nutrition labels for low saturated fat and no trans fat.
  • Some nutrition labels will display the good fats information, but it is not a federal requirement to list on the label, so you may have to do the math yourself. To determine the good fats on a nutrition label, subtract the bad fats from the total fat. Total fat – Bad fat = Good fats.
  • Use the ingredients list to identify the primary fat sources. Choose products containing good fats such as canola oil, soybean oil and high oleic oils.
  • Do not be deceived by “low-fat” or “fat-free” claims, since these products can be high in added sugar.
  • Look for packaging claims outside the nutrition label that indicate good fats have replaced bad fats, such as “contains X grams of omega-3 fatty acids.”

Smart Snack Foods

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Snacking is becoming increasingly common, while the three daily meals routine is on the decline. As snacks take up a larger percentage of Americans’ dietary intake, it’s important for people to choose snack foods that contain beneficial nutrients, including heart-healthy fats. There are plenty of ways to locate good fats – and avoid bad fats –in the snack food aisle. Use these tips to find good fats on the labels of prepackaged foods.

  • Use the ingredients list to identify the primary fat source
  • Look for canola oil or soybean oil on the ingredients list to ensure your food choice is full of good fats
  • Check the nutrition label for low saturated fat and trans-fat-free claims
  • Look for packaging claims outside the nutrition label that indicate good fats have replaced bad fats, such as “contains x grams of omega-3 fatty acids,” “provides x grams of omega-6 fatty acids” or “made with heart-healthy canola oil”

A 2019 Food and Health Survey done by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) found that consumers are beginning to understand the good fats message. Results revealed that consumers are seeking more foods that contain good fats and are free of bad fats. While this is good news, it’s important to eat all fats in moderation. All fats, even the good fats, have 9 calories per gram. If you eat more calories than you burn off each day, you’ll gain weight.

Oil Spotlight

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At a time when more and more consumers are reading labels and seeking out healthful choices, more and more food companies and foodservice operations are taking a closer look at what dietary fats and oils they allow in their kitchens. However, the health claims of each of these oils vary dramatically. Here is a closer look at some of today’s most popular oils.

Canola Oil/Omega-9 Canola Oil

Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, which is primarily grown in North America. The plant contains pods with seeds, which are crushed to extract the oil. The oil is refined and bottled as canola oil. Canola oil is:

  • Liquid at room temperature
  • High in monounsaturated fat (61%)
  • Low in saturated fat (<7%)

Omega-9 Canola Oil (high oleic) was developed by Corteva Agriscience for food manufacturers and foodservice professionals looking for a very stable solution with a healthful nutrition profile. It has removed more than 1.5 billion pounds of trans and saturated fat from the North American food supply since 2005.

Soybean Oil/Plenish® High Oleic Soybean Oil

Plenish® High Oleic Soybean Oil was developed to meet the trans-fat challenge. Plenish® derives exceptional stability from an enhanced oil profile, providing a new opportunity for food service operators to extend use of their frying oil without sacrificing taste or performance.

Plenish® oil has an oleic content (Omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid) of more than 75%, the highest of any soybean under commercial development

  • Plenish® oil has 20% less saturated fat than commodity soy and 75% less than palm oil
  • Plenish® oil has a linolenic content of less than 3% for improved stability

Palm Oil

Although palm oil is functional, it is also high in saturated fat, which has long been linked to heart disease by raising bad cholesterol (LDL). Palm oil is:

  • Semisolid at room temperature
  • Naturally trans fat-free
  • More than 30% saturated fat

Palm oil is derived from palm trees, which are primarily grown in Southeast Asia. Beyond its health concerns, many environmentalists are worried about the negative impact unsustainable palm oil production is having on rates of deforestation, wildlife depletion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has emerged as one of the trendiest purchases in supermarkets these days. Some of the claims connected to coconut oil include blood sugar control and assistance in weight loss. But when it comes to the science, researchers are not so sure coconut oil has the strong health benefits some claim it has. Coconut oil is:

  • Solid at room temperature
  • 86% saturated fat (highest of any oil)
  • High in medium chain saturated fats (lauric acid)

Medium chain saturated fats are used more quickly by the body for energy and don’t travel or build up in the blood stream; however, the science is still conflicted on how these fats impact heart disease and health risk. Coconut oil as a replacement for butter may be a smart choice, but adding it to your normal diet or replacing unsaturated oil with coconut oil is ill-advised.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is produced from grape seeds, which are a byproduct of wine-making. Its clean, light taste makes it ideal as an ingredient in mayonnaise, salad dressings, vegetable dips or sprayed on raisins. Grapeseed oil is:

  • Liquid at room temperature
  • Naturally trans-fat-free
  • High in polyunsaturated fats

The research on grapeseed oil is still emerging, but recent studies show it may have antioxidant properties due to the polyphenols and flavonoids within the oil.

Seeking the Smartest Oil

Find the cooking oil that’s best for you by looking for those with more “good” fats and less “bad” fats. One serving of oil is equal to about one tablespoon and can provide up to 14 grams of good fats, depending on your oil of choice! The type of cooking application will also impact your choice. Use the tips below to help you select the smartest oil:

  • Canola oil is a great choice for baking, frying, sautéing, and salad dressings.
  • Olive oil is a good choice for sautéing and stir-frying.
  • Corn, peanut, soybean and sunflower oil also are appropriate for frying, baking and salad

Eating at Home

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When it comes to adding good fats into your meal plan, the options are endless. From smart substitutions to creative kitchen tricks, there are plenty of ways to create meals and snacks that will ensure you are eating within your daily good fat’s goals.



  • Use canola or soybean oil to roast vegetables instead of butter or coconut oil.
  • Sauté food with canola or sunflower oil rather than butter or margarine.
  • Dip bread in olive oil rather than spreading with butter.


  • Substitute avocados for cheese on hamburgers.
  • Spread avocado on toast in place of butter or use it to add zip to sandwiches and wraps instead of mayo.
  • Top tacos, chili or salads with avocado instead of sour cream.
  • Replace butter in baking recipes, such as brownies, for equal amounts of avocado.

Nuts and Seeds

  • Another great substitute for butter on toast is almond butter.
  • Add a crunch to salads with walnuts or pecans instead of croutons, bacon bits or crunchy rice noodles.
  • Satisfy your cravings for a salty snack with pistachios or almonds instead of chips.
  • Skip sugar on oatmeal and instead jazz it up with walnuts, chia seeds and dried fruit – or stir in peanut butter!
  • Replace eggs in baked goods with ground flax: To replace one egg, mix one tablespoon of ground flax with three tablespoons of warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Ground flax can replace up to 25% of white flour in recipes.


  • Try a salmon burger instead of a traditional hamburger.
  • Top your favorite salad with tuna rather than chicken.
  • Throw trout on the grill instead of steak.
  • Replace ground beef in tacos for fish tacos.

Creative Kitchen Tips to Use Good Fats

  • Create your own salad dressing using canola or soybean oil and balsamic vinegar for use throughout the week. If you’re feeling adventurous try making an avocado dressing!
  • Use the Right Oil for the Right Recipe.
  • Add olives, chopped avocado or sunflower seeds to salads.
  • Top pizza, tacos and lasagna with sliced olives.
  • Give your smoothies a nutrient boost with avocado, hemp seeds or flaxseed.
  • Add ground flaxseed or wheat germ to muffin, bread and pancake batter or sprinkle nuts on top.
  • Coat vegetables in canola oil before grilling or roasting.
  • Enjoy pumpkin seeds or olives and carrot sticks as a healthy snack.
  • Sprinkle nuts, chia seeds or flax on top of yogurt, oatmeal or fruit salad.

Remember, it is important to eat any fats in moderation. All fats, even the good fats, have nine calories per gram. If you eat more calories than you burn off each day, you’ll gain weight.

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