Since the mid-1980s, we’ve been obsessed with low-fat foods. But that craze introduced us to some seriously skeevy alternatives, such as higher sugars, trans-fats, and just plain wrong substitutes. That guilt-free food became a chemical cocktail that’s making you sick. Put down the fat-free snack and back away slowly………
Despite what we were told, fat isn’t the villain in the war against our waist. Granted, bad fats are guilty of many things, but good fats have the opposite effects...they play a role in helping us to manage our mood, stay mentally alert, keep energetic, and control weight. If you are concerned about your weight or heart health, rather than avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing trans fats and saturated fats with good fats. This might mean replacing fried chicken with fresh fish, swapping some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, or using olive oil rather than butter.
Omega-3 fats, particularly, are known to :
- Prevent and reduce the symptoms of depression
- Protect against memory loss and dementia
- Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer
- Ease arthritis, joint pain, and inflammatory skin conditions
- Support a healthy pregnancy
So what to do?
- Try to eliminate trans fats from your diet. Check food labels for trans fats. Limit your fast food intake. Or just avoid it.
- Cut back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and switching from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions.
- Eat omega-3 fats every day. Good sources include fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.
Many people think of margarine when they picture trans fats, and it’s true that margarine is loaded with them. However, the primary source of trans fats in the Western diet comes from commercially prepared baked goods and snack foods:
- Baked goods – cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and some breads like hamburger buns
- Fried foods – doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells
- Snack foods – potato, corn, and tortilla chips; candy; packaged or microwave popcorn
- Solid fats – stick margarine and semi-solid vegetable shortening
- Pre-mixed products – cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix
Take it to the Next Level : Learn to Cook with Healthy Fats
- Cook with olive oil. Use olive oil for stovetop cooking, rather than butter, stick margarine, or lard. For baking, try canola or vegetable oil.
- Eat more avocados. Try them in sandwiches or salads or make guacamole. Along with being loaded with heart and brain-healthy fats, they make for a filling and satisfying meal.
- Reach for the nuts. You can also add nuts to vegetable dishes or use them instead of breadcrumbs on chicken or fish.
- Snack on olives. Olives are high in healthy monounsaturated fats. But unlike most other high-fat foods, they make for a low-calorie snack when eaten on their own. Try them plain or make a tapenade for dipping.
- Dress your own salad. Commercial salad dressings are often high in saturated fat or made with damaged trans fat oils. Create your own healthy dressings with high-quality, cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, or sesame oil.