Fats Can Make You Thin

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Omega-3s consist of docosahexaenoic, eicosapentaenoic, and alpha-linolenic acids. The first two are considered to be the most important omega-3s and are found only in deep-water fish like salmon. Alpha-linolenic acid is found in deep-water fish, emu, fish oil, and some vegetable-based oils, including flaxseed and walnut oil.

Omega-3s have become less common in the American diet over the past 50 years … which is unfortunate. They offer powerful health and weight-loss benefits. They help rev up your fat-burning mechanism. Because they're harder to find in today's modern foods, we recommend that you take omega-3s in a nutritional supplement, such as fish oil. These fats are quite beneficial because they have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.


Omega-6 fatty acids consist of linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids. They are found in raw nuts, seeds, and legumes and in such unsaturated oils as borage, grape seed, primrose, sesame, and olive oil. The omega-6 fatty acids in these oils are destroyed when heated, so they should be consumed in an uncooked and unprocessed form. You eat plenty of these in processed foods. Eating too many processed foods that contain omega-6s can cause inflammation.

How Much Fat Is Too Much Fat?

Studies show that the average American diet consists of about 39 percent fat. Wow! That is more than enough. The American Heart Association suggests we keep our fat intake to 30 percent or less.

Limit saturated fats to 10 percent of your total food intake, with the rest of your fat intake coming from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Consume at least 10 percent, preferably 20 percent, of your total calories from food sources or supplements with EFAs.

Stay away from most low-fat processed foods. Search them out in your house and toss them. True, they're low in fat, but they simply can't deliver on the implied promise of a lean trim body.

Fat Shopping and Eating Tips


If you want the healthiest salad dressing when eating at a restaurant, ask for olive oil and vinegar. The olive oil is a monounsaturated oil. If you prefer more flavor, ask for some crumbled blue cheese to go with it.

The following is a list of good fats to buy at the store:

  • Olive oil. The darker the better because it's the least refined or processed and has the most good-for-you oils.

  • Butter. Yes, butter is fine to eat in small amounts. Good for sautéing and baking because it doesn't break down into trans fats, like vegetable oils do.

  • Salmon. It's rich in omega-3 EFAs and polyunsaturated fats. Poach or bake more than enough for dinner so that you can enjoy salmon salad—made with real mayonnaise—the next day.

  • Other cold-water fish. These include mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines, and lake trout.

  • Real versions of anything you have eaten as a low-fat processed food. We're talking about real ice cream, real salad dressing, real butter, real mayonnaise, and so on.

  • Canola oil. Also considered a monounsaturated fat, it is an alternative to olive oil for salads.

  • Nuts and seeds. Great for snacks, but eat in small quantities.

  • Fish oil from the health-food store. This comes in bottles and is refrigerated. Use as a dietary supplement.

  • Avocados and olives. These contain monounsaturated fats and add great flavor to meals.

Use olive oil and other cold-expeller pressed oils for salads; use butter for sautéing. And enjoy nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives as snacks and as condiments for salads and main dishes.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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