The worst thing about the 80s? Besides scary hair, the 80s had the low-fat diet craze. Whenever you see a box of cookies that boldly fats “0 grams of fat!” or read “a naturally fat-free food” on a box of candy, you are seeing the vestiges of this very wrong-minded mentality.
In reality, fats are great for you. Fats keep your skin soft, your hair glossy, your belly full, your joints comfortable, and even boost your immune system. The most important kinds are Essential Fatty Acids(EFA’s), fats your body cannot produce on its own. These are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Despite what you may have heard, saturated fat is also important. Saturated fats help the body absorb calcium. They also help the body retain Omega 3 fatty acids.
The only fat you should avoid at all costs is trans fat. This fat mad-made and leads to heart disease. You will find it in things such as processed potato chips, snacks, and baked goods, as well as fast foods. A way to check if a product has trans fat is to read the ingredients list. Trans fat is always labeled as “partially-hydrogenated oil.” Drop anything with this ingredient, even if the box says “0 grams of trans fat.” This just sneaky marketing that exploits an FDA loophole for food labeling.
Also, fats are high in calories, so there’s no need to eat a bag of cashews. With fats, the important thing is a balance. Here are some of the best fats you can eat.
Avocados. Get your guacamole on! Avocados contain lots of monounsaturated fats. They are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. Avocado tastes great in sandwiches, salads, and on top of scrambled eggs. You can even make it into a vegan chocolate pudding!
Coconut Oil and Coconut Meat. For vegans, coconut is an important source of saturated fat. For everyone else, the fat in coconuts is a specific kind of saturated fat that is metabolized as energy. It’s especially good for athletes, and coconut is antibacterial and antifungal. Add coconut oil to stir-fries, meat dishes, and smoothies. Coconut meat (often dried, but stick with unsweetened) tastes great as a topping for yogurt, oatmeal, and savory dishes.
Almonds. These nuts rock: they have protein, lower your risk of heart disease, and improve cholesterol. They also contain lots of monounsaturated fats. Sprinkle chopped almonds on top of yogurt and oat bran, or add slivered almonds to salads. Or, buy a jar of almond butter and spread it on apples and whole grain bread.
Flax Seed. Flax is rich in heart-healthy lignans and omega 3s. Just be sure to choose ground flaxseed, as it digests better. Flax seed is great sprinkled on yogurt and oat meal, or added into smoothies and baked goods.
Dark Meat. You’ve heard people say you should only stick with white meat because it’s leaner. In truth, higher-fat chicken and turkey thighs contain more vitamins and minerals. They also makes you feel full faster, which prevents overeating. Just as with white meat though, consider avoiding the skin, and always grilled and roasted over fried.
Olive Oil. Those sexy Italians have used olive oil for years. It’s great for your skin and your heart, and is a powerhouse of monounsaturated fats. Drizzle extra virgin olive on cooked veggies or savory dishes. However, don’t cook it at too high of a heat, or the nutrients will degrade.
Low Fat or Whole Yogurt and Kefir. Egads! Dairy that isn’t fat free? Sometimes, a little fat is a good thing—you need saturated fats in your diet, and fat keeps you full. Just watch your portions. With yogurt and kefir, you also get a healthy dose of probiotics. Plus, it tastes way better.
Salmon. Along with other fish such as mackerel, herring, and sardines, salmon is rich in Omega 3s, as well as protein. Choose wild salmon over farmed. Salmon is tasty with a little butter or olive oil and salt and pepper, but it tastes smashing with an Asian-themed ginger or citrus sauce. Smoked salmon and cream cheese is also a great accompaniment to morning toast. If you are a vegetarian or hate fish, consider a fish oil supplement to get those awesome EFAs.
Macadamia Nuts. You might have heard these nuts getting based for being super high in fat. In reality, macadamia nuts are super high in Omega 3s, the best kind of fat for your body. These taste great with yogurt and fruit, especially tropical fruits.
Walnuts. These nuts also contain lots of Omega 3s. Add them to baked dishes like banana bread for extra crunch and satiety.
Grass-Fed and Pastured Butter. Pastured butter (from grass-fed cows) has a high CLA content. This fatty acid has been linked with heart health and decreases in belly fat. In moderation, a little butter with your veggies or on your toast is a great addition to a healthy diet. Even better, opt for cultured butter, which has digestive benefits.
In conclusion, eat your yummy, good-for-you fats. Your hair and nails will be strong and shiny and your heart will thank you.