Jan 30th, 2013
Author: Avadean Lewis
These days, health experts are less worried about total fat consumption and more concerned with the types of fats we eat. The latest dietary guidelines allow for 20 percent to 35 percent of our daily calories to come from fat, as long as saturated fat is limited to less than 10 percent of total calories and trans fat is virtually nil. It’s important to choose mostly plant-based fats, which are cholesterol free and rich in heart healthy fats.
Though fat has gotten a bad rap over the years, it’s essential for good health. Like protein, fat is a building block of cells and tissues in our body. A certain amount of fat is essential for healing and for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins (E,A,D, and K), which need fat to be transported from the digestive tract into the blood. Too little healthy fat can lead to a deficiency of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), can keep HDL (the “good” cholesterol) form rising ot protective levels, and can raise blood fats called triglycerides, which increase heart disease risk.,
Fat also significantly boosts the absorption of certain disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. In one study, a group that ate salads dressed in full-fat dressing made with canola oil absorbed significantly more antioxidants than those who ate salad with light or nonfat dressing. In fact, the nonfat group absorbed almost none. What’s more, if you eat too little fat, you’ll experience dry skin, dull hair, slower healing, fatigue, constipation, and hormonal changes including missed periods or even mood swings and depression.
Eating more plant-based fats won’t directly lead to weight loss. Do keep in mind that even healthy fats contain 9 calories per gram – 40 calories per teaspoon – the same as unhealthy fats. In other words, don’t eat peanut butter out of the jar!
- Use light vinaigrette instead of nonfat dressing.
- Top your garden salad with chopped avocado or chopped or sliced walnuts, almonds, or pecans.
- Snack on a sliced apple or pear with one to two tablespoons of peanut butter for dipping.
- Mist vegetables with an herb-infused oil before sauteing or grilling.
- Serve raw veggies with guacamole, hummus, or artichoke or eggplant dip made with olive oil.
- Top your morning cereal or yogurt with a golf-ball-sized portion of nuts or seeds.
- Add peanut butter, almond butter, flax oil, or walnut oil to a fruit smoothie.
- Trade butter or cream cheese for peanut butter or almond butter at breakfast.
- Dip bread into extra-virgin olive oil sprinkled with herbs instead of spreading it with butter or margarine.
- Marinate meats in oil-based sauces and grill or bake instead of frying.
- Saute with oil instead of butter.
- When baking, replace butter or margarine with a combination of oil and mashed fruit, such as mashed banana, or dried plum, date, or fig puree. For each tablespoon of butter, use 1 teaspoon oil and 2 teaspoons fruit puree.
- Use oil-based dressings and vinaigrette instead of creamy dressings, or dress salads in balsamic or red wine vinegar and sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds.
- Use avocado or guacamole instead of sour cream or cream cheese in wraps or Mexican food.