Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6) fats

Include these healthier fats in your diet to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Healthier fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6).

These fats help the cholesterol balance in your blood by decreasing the bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase the good (HDL) cholesterol. Replacing saturated and trans fats with healthier ones helps to lower your risk of heart disease.

Make sure you have these healthier sources of fat in your healthy balanced diet.

Monounsaturated fat

Sources of monounsaturated fat include:

  • avocados
  • almonds, cashews and peanuts
  • cooking oils made from plants or seeds like canola, olive, peanut, soybean, rice bran, sesame and sunflower oils.

Polyunsaturated fat

Sources of polyunsaturated fat (both omega-3 and omega-6) include:

  • fish
  • tahini (sesame seed spread)
  • linseed (flaxseed) and chia seeds
  • soybean, sunflower, safflower, and canola oil, and margarine spreads made from these oils
  • pine nuts, walnuts and brazil nuts.

Omega-3

Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat that, like other dietary polyunsaturated fats, reduce your risk of heart disease. Omega-3s can:

  • lower heart rate and improve heart rhythm
  • decrease the risk of clotting
  • lower triglycerides
  • reduce blood pressure
  • improve blood vessel function and delay the build up of plaque (a fatty substance) in coronary arteries.

Try to include omega-3 fats from all of these 3 sources as part of a healthy eating pattern:

  • Marine: Omega-3 is found mainly in oily fish like tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel. Other good sources are fish like barramundi and flathead, and seafood like scallops and mussels. Try to eat 2–3 serves a week. Read more about fish
  • Plants: Good sources of plant-based omega-3 include walnuts, linseed (flaxseed), chia seeds and oils and spreads made from canola or soybean. Aim to include foods that provide at least 1 gram of plant-sourced omega-3 every day. Read more about nuts and seeds
  • Animals: Omega-3 is also found in animal products like eggs, chicken and beef.

For people who don’t eat fish, omega-3 capsules or liquids can also help supplement your intake.

Omega-6

Omega-6 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that lowers LDL cholesterol. Eating foods with unsaturated fat, including omega-6, instead of foods high saturated and trans fats helps to get the right balance for your blood cholesterol (lower LDL and increase HDL).

Easy ways to eat more healthy fats

  • Include 2–3 serves of fish a week (100–150 g per serve). Try some of our fish recipes.
  • Use nuts and seeds in your breakfast. Sprinkle ground linseed on cereal or try a handful of almonds sprinkled over yoghurt.
  • A handful (about 30 g) of unsalted nuts make a healthy snack any time of the day.
  • Use oils and margarine spreads made from olive, sunflower, canola and safflower oils in cooking and on sandwiches and toast instead of butter. If you don’t like the taste of margarine on sandwiches, try tahini, nut butters or avocado.
  • Choose wholegrain bread with linseeds.
  • Add foods containing good fats to your main meals. Use avocado, pine nuts or sesame seeds in salads. Sprinkle nuts or seeds over vegetables. Add walnuts, ground or whole linseeds and chia seeds to stir fries.

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