Fat is flavor.
Fat is filling.
And yes, fat can be GOOD for you! We’ve heard so much about low-fat this and low-fat that and reduce fat blah-blah-blah but in truth, not all fat is bad. Heck, not even all TRANS FAT is bad! (But stay away from man-made trans fats: beware the words “partially hydrogenated”.) Here’s the skinny (haha) on healthy fats:
Grass Fed Beef
Yes, BEEF. Red meat has natural occurring trans fat that is GOOD for you. CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, helps reduce belly fat and improve heart health. Stearic acid, a saturated fat, reduces LDL cholesterol. Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner, is lower in palmitic acid, which is unhealthy, and is higher in CLA, stearic acid and omega-3’s than conventional beef. MY RECOMMENDATION: Cook it medium-rare. 😉
Quack quack! Did you know eating fat could build muscle? Arachidonic acid (AA for short), a polyunsaturated fat, has been shown to increase lean body mass, strength and anaerobic power in men. (Come on, scientists, study this in WOMEN, too!) Plus, duck is delicious. MY RECOMMENDATION: Just like beef, cook it medium-rare.
If you haven’t heard someone recommend salmon as containing heart healthy fats before, you’ve been living under a rock. Salmon is LOADED with omega-3’s. Pink salmon is second best after wild salmon for nutrients, so try to use one of those two varieties to get the maximum benefit. MY RECOMMENDATION: I don’t actually like salmon very much but cedar planked salmon is very popular and doesn’t add a lot of extra calories while still imparting flavor.
Tuna has the highest quantity of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA of any fish in the sea, literally! And it’s CHEAP. Canned light tuna is the most affordable healthy fish you can buy, and researchers say that DHA is effecting at regulating fat genes in the abdomen, preventing belly fat cells from growing in size. MY RECOMMENDATION: Skip the mayo and eat a delicious Salad Nicoise with buttery extra virgin olive oil instead.
Yes, people, WHOLE eggs. Unless you are advised by your doctor to avoid eggs, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the whole thing. In fact, most of the fat in yolks is monounsaturated and found to reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Eggs are also the best dietary source of choline, a nutrient that can help reduce the fat stored around your liver. MY RECOMMENDATION: Eat eggs for more than just breakfast! A hard boiled egg is a protein packed snack and a quiche or fritatta can be a delicious evening meal.
Greek yogurt has TONS of protein and calcium so it’s a great food for strong muscles and healthy bones. Add fat to the mix and you have a hunger-bashing snack that can go savory or sweet. Yes, most of the fat is saturated, but Greek yogurt also contains monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and naturally-occurring trans fatty acids, all of which balance the saturated fat so your cholesterol is not affected. MY RECOMMENDATION: Purchase plain whole milk Greek yogurt and have it with fruit and a small drizzle of honey for a filling and satisfying afternoon snack.
People who eat full fat cheeses regularly are actually less prone to diabetes, and the fat in the cheese helps our body more readily absorb the other things that cheese provides in spades: protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. It also helps promote a feeling of satisfaction, and slows the absorption of sugar and carbs which can keep your energy levels steady throughout the day. MY RECOMMENDATION: Enjoy 1 ounce of full fat cheese with one small apple or one cup of grapes for a well-rounded snack.
Milk fat helps keep blood sugar stable and is more filling: this means you’ll find up eating less overall. In 2013, the European Journal of Nutrition published a study that found that people who eat the fattier dairy products were less likely to suffer from obesity. MY RECOMMENDATION: Splash a moderate amount of half and half in your coffee instead of the skim. It will feel like a treat and leave you feeling more satisfied.
Coconut contains a lot of saturated fat, but the majority of that comes from lauric acid, which is unique among triglycerides in that it fights bacteria, lowers bad cholesterol, and increases energy. Coconut oil is a popular cooking oil these days, which is great since it can help reduce abdominal fat. MY RECOMMENDATION: sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes on overnight oats topped with fresh fruit for a tasty, satisfying breakfast.
Olive oil has been touted for years as a healthy mostly-monounsaturated fat and even has an entire diet (The Mediterranean Diet) dedicated to waxing poetic about its benefits. It contains adiponectin, which is a hormone that helps break down fats in the body, and the more you have, the lower your BMI tends to be. MY RECOMMENDATION: Make your own salad dressings with 1 part robust-flavored olive oil and 2 parts citrus juice.
The polyunsaturated fats found in nuts can really help satiety and improve insulin levels. Walnuts are highly recommended for both diabetics and those who suffer from high blood pressure because they have more omega-3s than any other nut. Almonds and almond butter have higher amounts of protein than other nuts. MY RECOMMENDATION: Pair nuts or nut butter with fruit to make a healthy and nutritionally complete snack that really satisfies.
Avocado is a fabulous alternative to butter for those who prefer to stay away from dairy. The healthy monounsaturated fat and oleic acid in avocado stave off hunger, and unlike butter, it also contains protein and fiber. MY RECOMMENDATION: I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of avocado, but I did make homemade Green Goddess salad dressing and used avocado to make it vegan, and it was FABULOUS!
Flax & Chia Seeds
Flax & chia seeds contain ALA, an essential Omega-3 fatty acid. ALA promotes blood vessel health and acts as an anti-inflammatory, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. MY RECOMMENDATION: Use in homemade muesli or sprinkle on overnight oats.
So what’s YOUR favorite healthy fat? Mine are nuts of any kind, including nut butter! I can make even healthy fats dangerous, haha!