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Diabetes Nutrition Guide: Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

Diabetes and Fat

If you have diabetes, you probably pay close attention to the carbohydrates you eat every day. After all, it’s carbohydrates that quickly raise blood glucose levels. But because diabetes increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease, keeping an eye on fat intake is also essential.

Dietary Fats

Fat is not a four-letter word! Yes, a high-fat diet can be high in calories, and a diet high in saturated fats is thought\ to increase the bad cholesterol levels in the body and thus lead to cardiovascular disease. However, we actually need some fat in our diet to stay healthy. For instance, fat transports vitamins A, D, E, and K into the bloodstream. And our bodies can’t make two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, which we need for our brain, our nervous system, and for healthy skin—we need to get these from food sources.

The ideal amount of fat per day is unknown, but most experts agree that it is the type of fat rather than the amount of fat that is important. There are two types of fats: saturated fats and unsaturated fats. The two types of unsaturated fats are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. For people with type 2 diabetes, a diet that is rich in monounsaturated fats may help improve blood sugar control and may help lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

The best sources for monounsaturated fat include:

  • avocado and canola oil
  • nuts such as almonds, cashews, nd pecans and peanuts
  • olives and olive oils
  • sesame seeds

Polyunsaturated fats are also considered “healthy” fats. Polyunsatured fats are found in:

  • certain fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring
  • soybean, corn, and safflower oils
  • some types of nuts, including walnuts and sunflower seeds

A type of polyunsaturated fats, called omega-3 fatty acids may help keep arteries healthy. Good sources for omega-3s include:

  • certain fish like albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines, and salmon,
  • tofu
  • walnuts
  • flax seeds
  • canola oils

Fats to Limit

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are found in animal fats and coconut and palm oil. Whole-fat dairy products such as butter, full-fat cheese, cream, ice cream, whole milk, 2% milk, and sour cream are sources of saturated fats. It’s also in meat, including ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, spareribs, and poultry skin.

Trans Fat

Trans fats are man-made fats used in many processed foods and restaurant foods. A trans fat is a liquid fat that turns solid in a process called hydrogenation. Trans fats are found in baked goods such as cookies and muffins, and in crackers and chips. Shortening and stick margarine are also trans fats. Avoiding trans fats is a good idea. Trans fats will be removed from all foods in the U.S. by 2016.

Daily Limits

Fats are high in calories, so if you are trying to manage your weight, managing foods that are high in fat is a good idea. Choose healthy unsaturated fats and limit saturated and trans fats to keep your body healthy.


Content licensed from:

Written by: Dana Sullivan
Published on: Jan 13, 2011on: Apr 16, 2014

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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