NDSU Extension - Benson County


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The Importance of Healthy Fat

A Taste

For Nutrition

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent

Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science


The Importance of Healthy Fat

Fat tends to get a bad name, but the reality is, unsaturated fat (in moderation) can actually be helpful to our health.  Foods with unsaturated fat include: avocados, nuts, seeds (such as sunflower seeds and flaxseeds), canola oil, and olive oil (among many others).  Fish and seafood such as salmon and tuna are also high in unsaturated fat which can be very beneficial to your heart health.


Saturated oils, such as butter, lard, hardened vegetable shortening, and coconut oil should be used less often as they have saturated fat.  Eating too many foods containing saturated fats can lead to an elevated cholesterol level, which can essentially lead to heart disease.  In many cases, ¾ cup of oil can be substituted for 1 cup of solid fat for a healthier baking experience.


Another tool that can be used to track what kind of fat is being consumed, as well as how much fat is the Nutrition Facts label found on food products.  Compare how much unsaturated, saturated, and trans-fat is in the food you are consuming.  Try to look for foods that are low in, or do not have any saturated or trans-fat. 


Here is a recipe for creating your own homemade salad dressing.  Many dressings are very high in sodium.  Making your own dressing is a quick way to create a unique flavor for your next salad with the possibility of less sodium.  If you are not sure how much sodium is in your store bought dressing, or what type of fat it contains, simply look at the Nutrition Facts label for all of your answers.  Enjoy!


Salad Dressing


• 1 c. salad oil

 • 1/3 c. acid, such as red wine vinegar

• 1 tsp. garlic powder

• 1 tsp. onion powder

• ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)*

• ½ teaspoon black pepper



  • Oil: Try canola or olive oil. They have different flavors, but both provide healthful monounsaturated fats. Canola oil costs much less and will make your homemade salad dressing a bargain, compared with store-bought salad dressings.
  • Acid: Try different flavors of vinegar or fruit juice. With fruit juices, you typically can use more acid and less oil, making a lower-fat salad dressing.
  • Seasonings: Try any herbs or spices, salt, pepper or chopped vegetables (such as onions or peppers). Store salad dressing in the refrigerator. Put all ingredients into an airtight container. Secure the lid and shake until ingredients are combined. Salad dressing can be stored in the airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week

Makes: 48 servings.  Each serving contains 103 calories, 4 grams of fat, 74 mg of sodium, 16 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. 



  • Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen, 7 Tips for Choosing and Using Healthy Oils and Fats, June 2017
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