February is heart month, which is a good time to talk about healthy fats during pregnancy.
I often find people think that they should avoid fat…have a look at what Vanessa Pietrantonio, our nutrition student has summarized based on the current evidence.
Why is eating fat important?
Eating fat is an important part of pregnancy. Fats provide your body with energy, help make important hormones, cushions your organs, and help with absorbing certain vitamins in our bodies. Most of our fat comes from the food we eat, so it is important to eat the right type of fat.
Canada’s Food Guide recommends having a small amount (2-3 tablespoons) of unsaturated fat each day, and to limit saturated and trans fats. Eating too much saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Some saturated fats are naturally found in products like milk and cheese, but you can make healthy choices by choosing lower fat options such as 2% milk or less. Trans fats are often found in convenience foods, and should be avoided.
What are the types of fats I should focus on?
Unsaturated fats are the healthy fats. You’ve probably heard of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are essential because our bodies do not produce them, so we need to get them through our diet.
During pregnancy, it’s especially important to have omega-3 fats which contain DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid).
The omega-3 fats help develop your baby’s nervous system, eyes, and growing brain. DHA and EPA are only found in animal products. Food sources include fatty fish such as salmon, arctic char, anchovies and sardines. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t worry! Some foods are enriched with EPA and DHA and those can include things like eggs, milk, yogurt, or soy beverages. Look for the words “fortified”, or “added” on the packaging.
Comment below and let us know how you get healthy fats into your diet!
More questions about healthy fats? eChat or call us at (416) 338-7600 to speak with a health professional.