“Fat makes you fat”
“Fat clogs your arteries and leads to heart disease”
“Fats have ZERO nutrients”
For us health fanatics, the word “fat” scares us. “Fat” is perceived as negative and we try to avoid it at all costs. So…”healthy fats?” It seems like an oxymoron. Is there really such a thing? Yep, there is. Believe it or not, incorporating fat into your diet is NECESSARY and surprisingly beneficial to your overall health and well-being. Well… the good kind of fat.
While many fats are high in sugar, saturated and downright unhealthy, there are plenty of fats you actually SHOULD BE eating. Check out my list of five nutrient-packed and delicious healthy fats that will keep you happy, healthy, and confident.
1. Flax seeds
I am a huge cereal and Greek yogurt lover, and although these foods are excellent sources of protein, they have little to no fat. While this may seem like a good thing on the surface, we – especially women – need a certain number of fat grams to support our daily bodily functions. My solution? Easy. I easily incorporate a little more fat into my diet is by throwing a few tablespoons of flaxseeds into my yogurt, smoothie, or cereal bowl. These seeds are very small when crushed, but just two tablespoons add about 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, AND healthy fats! Flaxseeds also have a delicious, non-potent nutty taste. So, if you aren’t a huge fan of nuts but want just a hint, flaxseeds are the way to go. By simply sprinkling these mildly flavored seeds onto your cereal, yogurt, smoothies, salads, homemade baked goods, or even dinner entrees, you are incorporating essential fats into your diet – without feeling bloated. Try my favorite high quality, fresh flaxseed product: Spectrum Essential Flaxseed Organic Grnd Essential 14 Oz
Almonds are one of the best healthy fats you can eat. You can throw them in a zip-lock bag and eat them as a snack in class or at work. You can sprinkle a handful on a salad. You could make an almond crusted fish or chicken dinner. Possibilities go on and on with almonds. If you are like me, and you’re not a fan of eating an almond nut whole, try crushing a few almonds and sprinkling them into your yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or even salad (you won’t even taste the almond — just a nice hint of it).
3. Peanut butter
Peanut butter, without added hydrogenated oils or sugar, is a protein-packed healthy fat that’s great to eat, ESPECIALLY after a hard workout. Quick tip on this one: Be careful not to OVER DO your serving. One serving of PB is just 2 tablespoons. And while that’s a pretty small serving size for the number of calories that it is, PB’s many grams of proteins will keep you full and satisfied for longer. A trick to keep yourself from devouring the entire jar is to always have peanut butter WITH another food. It may be with a rice cake or slice of bread, fruit, celery, whatever! The trick is to always spread it on another food so that you know you aren’t OVER-consuming. (Dad, that trick applies to you too!)
4. Olive Oil
We all love baked goods and we all love baking them. While many recipes for baked goods call for oil, rarely do we ever stop and think about substituting that oil. Bad mistake. Many oils are high in saturated fat and trans fat. Instead, try opting for a healthier alternative: olive oil. Olive oil has been found to decrease the risk of breast cancer, skin cancer, Type II diabetes, and heart disease. It also helps protect your skin (both through eating it and applying it directly)! Loaded with antioxidants, olive oil can also strengthen your immune system and make you more resistant to infections. Olive oil is at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, and because of the many benefits of cooking with olive oil, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Greeks are one of the world’s longest-living cultures! Go for Pompeian Olive Oil – Extra Virgin Imported 32 Oz Plastic Bottle
5. Fish Packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish is a great source of protein and tends to have less saturated fat than other animal-based proteins. Fish is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health! Eating two to three servings of omega-3 fatty acids per week can lower the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol. Also, eating omega-3s can really benefit athletes or anyone who keeps active since they relieve joint pain, improve overall blood flow and can prevent inflammation. So, your recovery time from exercise is faster which allows you to train harder! I’m a huge seafood lover and some of my favorite fish is packed with these omega-3s include salmon, halibut, trout, and fresh Tuna.
So…FOF? Get over it! Fat is necessary for our health. As a fitness enthusiast, I used to have a very hard time accepting this as fact. But it’s the whole truth. Our bodies actually NEED fat to function. It’s all about choosing the right kind of fat and limiting the unhealthy saturated and trans fats we consume. The 5 foods mentioned above are some of the healthiest of fats out there. Try them, love them, and be confident that you’re eating healthy fats, packed with vitamins and minerals. Peanut butter, almonds, flax, etc. – all healthy yet all fats. Fats, but the good kind.
With the holidays around the corner, you’ll find yourself eyeing the plate of cookies on your kitchen island, the chocolate truffle samples in the grocery store, and the slew of desserts at a friend’s holiday parties. Try to go for that peanut-butter-filled dessert – remember PB is a healthy fat! Check out this recipe for Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Greek Yogurt Pops:
- In a blender or smoothie maker, combine banana, Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla extract and peanut butter. Mix on medium setting until smooth and fully combined.
- Place 4 (3 oz size) plastic cups onto a plate. Pour mixture into cups filling each about 3/4 full. Insert short wooden craft/popsicle sticks into the center of each cup. Place plate into the freezer and allow pops to set for 2 hours or until completely frozen.
- Once pops have frozen, place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat until melted (stir). Remove pops from the freezer and dip the top of each pop in the melted chocolate and then into the crushed peanuts. Place pops back into the freezer for 10-15 minutes until chocolate and peanuts have set. Enjoy!
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