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Nutrition

Healthy Fats for Older Adults

Elderly Couple

Introduction Current Dietary Fat Guidelines

Healthy Fats for Older Adults. Many of us still believe the nutrition lessons we learned in the past. And when guidelines advised us to “choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.” Also, low-fat options were prized and store shelves were lined with fat-free foods. The old adage was that “fat makes us fat,” and in addition to weight gain. So then, we believed all fat was bad for heart health too. Fast forward a few years and the new 2015-2020 dietary guidelines recommend a healthy eating pattern that includes foods such as nuts and oils.

Fat is no longer feared or vilified like it was in the past. This new advice marks a departure from marking all fats as “bad” foods that should be limited, However, it really drills down into the type of fats we should choose. Hence, quite simply, some fats are better than others. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats

Avocado is a monounsaturated healthy fat and good forolder adults
Avocado

Healthy Fats for Older Adults. Monounsaturated fat is a key feature of the Mediterranean Diet. a healthy eating plan that’s linked to increased longevity and reduced chronic pain.

Using monounsaturated fat helps lower inflammation and bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. while simultaneously increasing healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fat, which is also known as omega-9 fats, helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and developing atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of the arteries). Studies show that people with diabetes are be better able to manage blood sugar levels when they eat foods high in monounsaturated fats instead of foods high in saturated or trans fat.

Food Sources

Food sources of monounsaturated fats include olives, olive oil, canola oil, avocado, avocado oil, macadamia nuts, almonds, hazelnuts.

2. Benefits of Polyunsaturated Fats

Salmon is a polyunsaturated healthy fat which is good for older adults
Salmon

Healthy Fats for Older Adults. Oil that’s rich in polyunsaturated fats provides essential fatty acids that the body requires but can’t produce itself. So then, these are called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It’s important to discuss them separately because they’re not the same.

Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Known for their role in promoting heart health, omega-3 fats (specifically DHA from fish more so than ALA from plants) can help lower triglycerides, blood pressure and inflammation, while promoting an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol.

Food Sources

Plant-based food sources (ALA) of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids include walnuts, canola, flax, hemp, chia and oils made from these foods. Marine-based food sources (DHA and EPA) include fatty fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, herring, sardines, etc.

Most North Americans don’t get enough of these dietary omega-3s, and to make matters worse, consume an excess of omega-6 fats found in vegetable oil and many processed foods. This imbalance of high omega-6 to omega-3 leads to inflammation. And which is associated with many chronic diseases and is considered a key driver of the aging process.

Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Some omega-6 fat in the diet is necessary, but an imbalance (too much of it and too little omega-3) can lead to high blood pressure and inflammation, heart disease and cancer. Getting more omega-3 fats and less omega-6 fat can help combat inflammatory diseases such as heart and liver disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

Food Sources

Food sources of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids include oils such as sunflower, corn, soy, cottonseed and peanut and foods made with these oils.

3. Saturated Fats

Cheese contains saturated fat, it is not considered a really healthy fat
Cheese

Healthy Fats for Older Adults. While saturated fat is getting better press in recent years. Generally, most experts agree that foods containing saturated fats should be limited to 10% of calories. And should largely be replaced by foods than contain mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can reduce total LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and reduce risk of heart attacks.

But before you say bye-bye to butter, note that not all studies show detriments from saturated fat. Also, recent investigation published in The Lancet found that total fat. Including, saturated and unsaturated fats were not significantly associated with a risk of heart attack or cardiovascular disease mortality. Research is ongoing.

Food Sources

Food sources of saturated fats include butter, cheese, whole milk, meat, poultry, as well as plant-based oils such as palm, coconut and palm kernel oil, and processed foods made with butter, coconut or palm oil.

4. Trans Fats

Crackers contain trans fats a not healthy fat for older adults
Crackers

Healthy Fats for Older Adults. Let’s not sugar coat it. These fats are bad for you. End of story. Studies show that there’s really no safe level to eat, so guidelines recommend getting as close to zero dietary trans fats as possible. A number of studies have also noted a link between trans fats and increased risk of LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart disease.

(It’s important to note that animal products, such as meat and cheese contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats which are not as detrimental to our health.)

Food Sources

Here, trans fat is used when oil is partially hydrogenated (hardened) to become solid, and used in processed foods. (crackers, cookies, baked goods, pastries, deep fried foods) Just, to extend their shelf life. Trans fat can also found in some brands of margarine and shortening.

5. Plant-Based Sources of Healthy Fats

Olives contain healthy monounsaturated fats
Olives

A. Olives

Three-quarters of olive fat is in the form of monounsaturated fat, which is a key feature of the Mediterranean Diet. A well known healthy eating plan that’s linked to increased longevity and reduced chronic pain. Read more →

B. Avocado

Avocados are a wonder food for older adults. They’re full of fiber and other nutrients like folate (a B vitamin) and healthy monounsaturated fat that benefits us as we age.  Read more →

C. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are worth their weight in nutritional gold. Full of fibre and healthy fats, adding macadamias to your diet is a healthy choice as you age. Read more →

D. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil has long enjoyed superfood status, and for good reason. It too is source of monounsaturated fat.  Read more →

E. Almonds

Adding almonds into your diet can lower your risk for heart disease and improve cholesterol levels. Read more →

In Conclusion

Healthy eating has many benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. A person may also boost their mood and gain more energy by maintaining a balanced diet. So then just remember we are what we eat. And a doctor or dietitian can provide further tips for eating a more healthy diet.

Important Note *

Remember that everyone is different, and it is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to find what your body responds to. So please do your due diligence before trying anything new, including getting Medical Advice to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

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