Get Hip to Good Fats with Cheryl K. Forberg, R.D.
The nutritionist for NBC’s The Biggest Loser shares some of the secrets of healthy eating.
Fad diets come and go. Finally with the fat-free craze and low-carb mania behind us, we have gained a more balanced view of the role of fat in our diets. No doubt fat is calorie-dense, but some fats are good for us – in fact, our bodies need them. Even when the goal is to lose weight, some good fats should be included with every meal and snack.
Trans fats are found in some fried or processed foods. Saturated Fats are solid at room temperature, and the majority come mainly from animal sources. These two varieties of fats raise levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and decrease the level of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in our bodies, promoting heart disease and a host of other serious health problems.
Good fats include those found in plants, nuts, seeds, and cold water fish. Avocados, with their mono- and polyunsaturated fats, are a healthy stand-in for foods rich in saturated fat. Ready for even more good news? A one-ounce serving of fresh avocados contains 0mg of cholesterol and 0mg of sodium.
Other foods with good fats include: olives, walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and salmon. Try to include a little bit of good fat in every meal and snack. A few ideas:
- Make a breakfast burrito with scrambled egg or black beans, diced avocado, and salsa.
- Sprinkle flax seeds on oatmeal.
- Have a few almonds or walnuts with a piece of fruit.
- Create a quick and easy turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce, tomato, and a few slices of avocado.
- Whip up a healthy topper for baked potatoes. Just mash or puree avocados with salt, lemon or lime juice, and plain yogurt. Add some crunch by sprinkling with chopped green onions, bell peppers and crumbled bacon.
- Grill or bake salmon filets and top with a quick salsa of chopped mango, red onion, jalapeños, freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, a little salt and chopped cilantro along with some avocado cubes.
- Mix up a fabulous chicken or shrimp salad with cubed avocados, orange segments, walnuts and shallots, bound with a bit of tarragon-seasoned vinaigrette. Fill the emptied avocado shells and serve.
Benefits of Good Fats in Your Diet
- Fat gives a satisfying texture and mouth feel, promoting satiety and making you less likely to overeat.
- Healthy fats in the diet aid in absorption of fat-soluble nutrients – such as alpha- and beta-carotene – found in vegetables and other foods.
- The beta-sitosterol found in avocados is a natural plant sterol that some research studies indicate may help maintain healthy cholesterol level.
- Avocados also contain lutein, a natural antioxidant that may be helpful in maintaining eye health.
- Lutein has been shown to help slow the progression of age-related diseases such a macular degeneration.