Type 2 Diabetes – Fats In The Type 2 Diabetic Diet!
Living with Type 2 diabetes, you are no stranger to the potential dangers of a high-fat diet. While it’s important to know how much fat is in your overall diet, it’s also important (if not more so!), to understand that not all fats are created equal. For example, 15 grams of fat in a processed cinnamon bun is going to affect your body differently than 15 grams of fat from a piece of broiled salmon.
Fats to Limit:
Saturated fats: Saturated fats are naturally found in animal and few select plant foods. Because saturated fats raise blood cholesterol levels, too much of them can become a risk factor for heart disease. Diabetics are already at high risk for heart disease, so limiting your saturated fat can help lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Examples: meat skin, cream sauces, lard, butter, high-fat meats like sausages, pork belly, bacon, and bologna.
Trans-fats: Trans-fats are made when a process called hydrogenation turns a liquid fat into a solid fat, such as making vegetable shortening from vegetable oil. Trans-fats, like saturated fats, raise blood cholesterol, but are far worse for overall heart health. They are best to be avoided all together.
Examples: shortening, margarine, grocery store baked goods (including cookies, muffins, and cakes), processed snack foods (various chips and bagged snack blends), and anything that lists “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil”.
Fats to Include: Don’t think that you can’t eat any fat whatsoever. There are a number of naturally-occurring fats that have been shown to improve health and longevity when consumed in moderation… they do this by lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol. It can be tedious to try and memorize the specific names for each healthy fat, but you don’t really need to, as long as you can remember which foods contain the healthy fats.
Liquid vegetable oils, especially those with names you can recognize as real plants, are great choices… think olive oil, peanut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and flaxseed oil.
Similarly, butters made from plants and nuts are great choices, such as peanut butter, almond butter, sesame seed butter (you may know it as tahini), cashew butter, and sunflower seed butter. (These are delicious smeared over a piece of whole grain bread for a light breakfast or snack). Whole nuts and seeds will contain the same healthy fats inside; just don’t go “nuts” when eating them! A small sprinkle on a salad or over a brown rice pilaf is enough.
Aside from plant fats, seafood is an excellent choice of healthy dietary fat. Which fish are best to eat? Believe it or not, seafood is one case where bigger is not better! The smaller species, such as herring, mackerel, and sardines not only have heart-healthy omega-three fats, but they also have the least risk of mercury and metal pollution (unlike big special, like tuna and orange roughy, which have drastically higher levels of mercury). Also opt for rainbow trout and wild salmon, which are full of healthy fat and lean protein.
The bottom line: Tracking how much fat you eat matters, but don’t lose sight of what type of fat you are eating. It’s pretty simple… keep the heavy animal fats and processed snack fats to an absolute minimum, and allow for regulated intake of healthy fats from vegetables, vegetable oils and butters, and seafood. Talk to your dietitian to get detailed information on exactly how much fat you should be consuming.
Being diabetic doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself!