Canada's food guide

Choosing foods with healthy fats

Choosing foods with healthy fats can help lower your risk of heart disease.

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Benefits of choosing foods with healthy fats

Choosing foods that contain mostly healthy fats instead of foods that contain mostly saturated fat can help lower your risk of heart disease. Heart disease is 1 of the leading causes of death in Canada.

The type of fat you eat over time is more important for health than the total amount of fat you eat.

Foods containing healthy fats

These foods contain healthy fats:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • avocado
  • fatty fish
  • vegetable oils
  • soft margarine

Foods containing saturated fat

These foods contain saturated fat:

  • fatty meats
  • high fat dairy products
  • some highly processed foods
  • some tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil

How to choose food with healthy fats

The type of fat you include in your eating pattern matters. Here are some ideas to eat more healthy fats and less saturated fat.

Choose foods with healthy fats

Try different types of fatty fish such as:

  • trout
  • salmon
  • herring
  • mackerel

When preparing foods, use oils with healthy fats, such as:

  • corn
  • olive
  • canola
  • peanut
  • sesame
  • soybean
  • flaxseed
  • safflower
  • sunflower

Include small amounts of nuts as a snack.

Try nut butters such as peanut, almond or walnut.

Try pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Toast them for a snack or add them to salads.

Make your own salad dressing with canola, olive or flaxseed oil. Add balsamic, rice wine or other vinegars. Flavour with lemon juice, dry or Dijon mustard, garlic and herbs.

Limit foods that contain saturated fat

Limit the amount of foods containing saturated fat, such as:

  • cream
  • higher fat meats
  • processed meats
  • canned coconut milk or cream
  • some frozen desserts like ice cream
  • some desserts and bakery products
  • most deep fried foods, like French fries
  • cheeses and foods containing a lot of cheese

When preparing foods, try to limit the amount of saturated oils and fats like:

  • lard
  • ghee
  • butter
  • palm oil
  • coconut oil
  • hard margarine

Choose lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry. Trim off as much of the visible fat as possible. Drain fat from cooked ground meat. Lean or extra lean cuts of meat can include:

  • pork loin
  • chicken breast
  • sirloin roast or steak
  • inside and outside round roast
  • lean ground poultry
  • wild game such as:
    • deer
    • bison
    • moose
    • caribou

Some processed foods are made with ingredients that are high in saturated fat. Use the food labels to compare products. Choose those with little to no added saturated fat.

Healthy fat swaps

Try these swaps to replace saturated fat with healthy fats:

  • On your toast, replace cream cheese with nut butters.
  • For dipping, try making your own hummus or tzatziki to replace spinach or artichoke dip
  • On bread or rolls, replace butter with olive oil flavoured with balsamic vinegar.
  • When you are cooking, replace shortening, lard or hard margarine with oils with healthy fats such as canola, olive and soybean.

Visit the Food guide for life for tips to:

  • Make easy breakfasts
  • Make healthy choices when eating out
Make a healthy choice

What you eat on a regular basis matters for your health.

  • Choose foods that have little to no added sodium, sugars or saturated fat.
  • Compare the nutrition facts table on foods to choose products that are lower in sodium, sugars or saturated fat.

Further reading

Date modified: 2019-04-01