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Healthy fats gaining in popularity

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Leslie Ivarson is a personal trainer. She tries to make healthy food choices for herself and her family.

"What you're putting in your mouth is really important," she said.

Ivarson eats healthy by including fat in her diet, but healthy fat.

"I eat a lot, but the stuff I eat is real food," she added.

"Healthy fats" are mono and poly-unsaturated fats. They're found in foods like olive oil and nuts. Some research suggests that dairy fats may also help with weight loss, because they make you feel full.  

Libby Mills, a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, applauds the shift towards fuller fat food.

"Over a decade ago it was very popular for people to seek out fat free foods, but lately people are learning there are good fats," Mills explained.

In a recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers called on the federal government to drop restrictions on total fat consumption in dietary guidelines for Americans, which will be updated later this year. 

Mills says it's not that fat is "bad," you just need to read labels and watch your total fat intake.

"It's still just as important for people to look at the back of a package to find out if there's too much fat, and if the food contains the right kinds of fat," Mills said. 

Consumers are buying into the healthy fat idea.   Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert says the trend is being fueled by a desire to go back to basics.

"One of the movements is towards real food.  People are reading ingredients more than ever before," said Lempert. "People are putting down products if they can't read ingredients."

He says people are also thinking twice before buying "low-fat" or "fat free" foods.

"You've gotta read those labels, because oftentimes you'll see a nonfat or low fat product that's loaded with sugar instead." added Lempert.

Mills suggests people cook at home as often as possible, but emphasizes that portion control is key.

"When we're looking to prepare foods with fuller fats, but keep the foods healthy, it comes down to portions, and getting the right amount of foods with the right amount of fat," Mills explained.

Ivarson says she'll continue buying healthy fats for her family and hopes others follow her lead.

"Fat is not your enemy, it's your friend. The right kind is your friend," she said.

"Low carb" has also been a word for years.  Like fat, Mills says carbs aren't bad for you either, as long as you are eating the right kind.  She says good carbs include whole grains like barley and quinoa, beans, lentils and dried peas.