I hope you read about the new Mediterranean Diet study. Adding healthy fats in the form of olive oil or nuts reduced cardiovascular risk by 30%. But heart health is only one reason to eat more of this essential macronutrient.
Many people still have “fat phobia”, yet research shows that adding more healthy fat helps people lose and maintain weight. But not all fats are created equal. You have to use the right ones, in the right ways, to reap the benefits.
Feed Your Brain
The brain needs fat, and not just any fat, but saturated fat. It’s often demonized by those promoting a low fat diet, but in fact can be very healthful. Those Omega 3s you hear so much about? You need saturated fat for your body to make use of them. My favorite sources of healthy saturated fat are coconut oil and butter from pastured cows. Virgin coconut oil has the flavor and fragrance of coconut; non-virgin is neutral, and excellent for cooking.
Don’t Cook with Olive Oil
That’s right: olive oil should not be used for cooking, but only for salad dressing, or to replace butter on vegetables or bread. It has a low smoke point, and its benefits are destroyed when you use it to cook. Instead try coconut or grapeseed. Stay away from canola or corn oil because of their inflammatory properties, and because they are usually GMO (genetically modified).
Here are some of my other favorite ways to incorporate more healthy fats:
Avocados: not only healthy fat but plenty of fiber, too. I encourage my clients to have half an avocado daily. (just don’t add sour cream!)
Nuts and Seeds: Toss on salads or veggies, or use them for snacks. Since they combine protein, carbs and healthy fats, they are already perfectly balanced for you. For portion control, use small re-usable containers, or snack bags. A handful is perfect.
Substitute nut flours for grain flours in baking and cooking. My website has recipes for brownies, cookies, and more. Most recipes will need to be adapted, not just subbed 1:1.
Simple dessert: Halve a date, remove the pit, and fill with almond butter. Yum!
Note: I am still getting questions about the calories in nuts, from people who are concerned they will gain weight. Not to worry! It’s not going to make you fat. In fact, research shows consistently that people who snack on nuts are more likely to lose weight. Remember, it’s refined and processed carbs and sugars that are making us fat and unhealthy, not fat!