Healthy Cancer Fighting Fats

by Natalie on July 18, 2012

It’s pretty uncommon to see the word “healthy” and “fat” in the same sentence, right? But it’s true, some fats are healthy!

When researchers first began to study the relationship between fat and breast cancer, they initially thought all fat was bad and that a low fat diet was the way to go.

A lot has changed since then. Over the years, researchers have discovered that the type of fat you eat may have a bigger influence on cancer risk. **note – amount still matters. Eating too many healthy fats can have negative health consequences too.

Healthy Cancer Fighting Fats (eat more of these)

  • Omega 3 fatty acids. Found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, canola oil, walnuts, and walnut oil. Omega 3’s are very important for breast cancer prevention because they have been shown to balance estrogen levels, decrease breast cancer cell growth, and decrease spreading of breast cancer cells. They also help decrease any chronic inflammation that may be present in the body.  *fish high in omega 3’s – wild salmon from Alaska, Artic char, wild caught sardines, anchovies, oysters, rainbow trout.
  • Monounsaturated fats. Found in olive oil, avocado, nuts, nut butters, and seeds. Some research suggests that the oleic acid found in olive oil may help reduce breast cancer risk.

Unhealthy Fats (eat less of these)

  • Saturated fats. In general, saturated fat is highest in foods that come from animals. Here are some foods high in saturated fat: butter, cream, cheese, beef, and whole milk.
  • Trans-fats. These fats are created through a process called hydrogenation. Check the back of food labels and avoid anything made with “partially hydrogenated oil”, or “hydrogenated oil”. Trans-fats are found in fried foods, pastry, pie crusts, store bought cookies and granola bars, margarine, and shortening.
  • Omega 6 fats. High in safflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils. Small amounts of omega 6 fats are actually healthy and necessary in the diet, but it’s important that you eat more omega 3 fats than omega 6 fats.

Healthy Cooking Oils

  • Olive oil and canola oil are great “go to” cooking oils to have in your kitchen at all times. They will be able to meet most of your cooking needs, and also work great for salad dressings.
  • Flaxseed oil and walnut oil need to be kept cold and are not good for cooking. If you want to use them, they work great in salad dressings.

7 Ways to Incorporate Healthy Fats

  • Use nut butter on your morning toast instead of regular butter. I like to use almond butter!
  • Add chopped avocado to your scrambled eggs instead of cheddar cheese. Cook your eggs in olive oil or canola oil instead of butter.
  •  Try sardines on crackers for a healthy snack or appetizer.
  • Add chopped walnuts and/or seeds to your salads.
  • Try incorporating a fish dish once per week. I have a salmon cake recipe you might like!
  • Add a teaspoon of flaxseeds or chia seeds to your smoothies.
  • Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, walnut oil, or flaxseed oil.

I would love to hear your ideas — Can you think of any more ways to add healthy fats to your diet? Leave your suggestions in the comments box below.

 

 

 

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photo by: jurvetson on Flickr

 

James February 22, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Canola oil is a processed oil and should never be heated or consumed. You are giving people the wrong information. There is no such thing as a canola plant. It stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid…. It is actually highly processed rapeseed oil,,,

Natalie February 26, 2014 at 8:20 am

James – I know what Canola oil is and am aware of the arguments against it. Canola oil (low erucic acid rapeseed) was developed in the 1970’s from rapeseed, a type of seed from the mustard family. Oil from rapeseed has been in use since ancient times, however, the Canola oil we consume today is different than the oil consumed a thousand years ago. The rapeseed we use for canola oil today has been hybridized to reduce levels of erucic acid (which is toxic), reduce saturated fat, and increase mononunsaturated fats. Hybridization is a process which many plants do frequently in nature, but can also be done by humans to create improved seeds, fruits or other plants (different than genetically modified). Grapefruit is actually a hybrid between an pomelo and the Jamaican sweet orange. However, with the rise in genetic modification of plants, canola has been increasingly subject to this, and today is one of the most genetically modified crops. That’s why those who wish to avoid GMOs, need to make sure they choose their canola oil carefully. Spectrum brand states they do not use GMO canola, and even claims they have third party testing done to verify. It is also wise to choose expeller pressed canola oil because that means it was extracted without the use of the chemical hexane. In conclusion, one should take care when selecting ANY kind of oil, and purchase the best their money can afford. Any oil can become rancid if not produced with care. If you want to eat as close to nature as possible, I suggest using cold pressed extra virgin olive oil as your primary oil as well as coconut oil. Otherwise canola oil can be an option for dishes that require neutral tasting oil, such as in baking.

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