With Staci and I completing our first ever Whole30 challenge, we are feeling really good about our health and body. Now we what it to stay like this. Our Whole30 journey is done for now but we are still doing a 90-day challenge to monitor our blood pressure. Now we are looking to eat clean and make sure our body is getting all the vitamins it needs to function properly.
For the past few decades, we’ve heard all about the virtues of a low-fat diet and the dangers of dietary fat and cholesterol. But with the number of overweight and obese people climbing every day and statin drugs for lowering cholesterol the most commonly prescribed medications in the world, researchers have recently reviewed the low fat trend. Emerging research has shown that there is such a thing as healthy fat which can increase your good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol-think H for healthy) and decrease your bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol-think L for lousy).
What are Healthy Fats
But with so many so-called healthy oils and butter substitutes on the market, how do decide what’s best to buy? Here are 15 tips for choosing healthy fats in your diet:
- Choose plant-based oils such as olive oil, or peanut oil if you are not allergic to nuts. Plant based oils will not contain cholesterol as compared with animal-based oils such as butter.
- Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Mono means 1 and poly means more than 1. These fats are most easily used by the body for a range of important functions and are healthier for you than saturated fats. These will help you feel full and make it less likely that you will eat saturated fats from animal products, such as butter and lard.
- Go Mediterranean. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be heart healthy due to the proportion of olive oil used as dressing and cooking oil. Olive oil is actually higher in calories than butter but contains no cholesterol.
- Choose natural oils, not ‘lite’ or ‘light’ ones. Some people find the taste of olive oil a bit overwhelming, such as that of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or EVOO. There are different grades of olive oil you can try until you find one that suits your palate. Avoid oils labeled lite or light, however, because those words do not usually refer to the color of the oil, but the fact that is has been blended with another type of oil, one potentially less healthy for you.
- Eat olives. These tasty little foods are the origins of olive oil, so you can get all the benefits of the oil plus a tasty snack for only a few calories per portion. Rinse off the salt water they are usually packed in to make them healthier, and enjoy!
- Substitute olive oil for butter in a range of recipes. Use it as a spread on bread and for cooking and frying. If you miss buttercream frosting on your cake, try a simple glaze of water and powdered sugar instead, with a dash of olive oil for body and texture.
- Eat avocados. These tasty fruits contain a range of heart healthy fats 75% monounsaturated and 25% polyunsaturated. They are versatile and can be used in sandwiches, salads, Mexican and Tex-Mex meals, and more.
- Use guacamole instead of mayo in your sandwiches. Make your own guacamole by mashing fresh avocado with some fresh tomatoes cut into cubes and a squirt of lemon or lime juice. Use your guacamole as you would mayonnaise, on turkey sandwiches, with your tuna salad, and more. Be careful of commercially prepared guacamole, however, as it can often contain not so healthy fats. In fact, some actually contain very little avocado. If you must buy it, be sure to read the label to make sure avocado is listed as the first ingredient.
- Eat nuts in moderation if you are not allergic. Studies have shown that those who eat 1 ounce of nuts each day have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off. Nuts are not only rich in healthy fats and certain vitamins and enzymes, their fiber makes you feel fuller and aids in digestion.
- Try walnuts in your oatmeal each morning. Studies have shown that 8 walnuts a day can help lower you cholesterol naturally. A bowl of oatmeal made with quick oats, water and a dash of cinnamon can help lower it even more.
- Switch to peanut oil. Peanut oil is a monounsaturated fat, which means it is a simple fat easily digested and used by the body. It increases healthy cholesterol in the body and is great for your skin and your memory. It works well in Asian-style dishes.
- Cook at home using healthy oils so you can steer clear of artery-clogging trans fats. Healthy oils like peanut, olive and coconut oil give foods a rich flavor compared with the trans fats in store-bought cookies, cakes and other packaged convenience foods. Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen molecules into a range of (usually cheap and unhealthy) oils to make them solid and therefore less likely to spoil as the products they are made with sit on store shelves. Trans fats are damaging to heart health and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Add coconut oil to your diet in moderation. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but studies have shown it is processed by the body differently than animal-based saturated fats. Coconut oil has been shown to offer a range of healing properties and can improve your digestive health. It is usually solid at room temperature but becomes liquid on warm days.
- Use coconut oil in a wide range of tasty recipes, even if you are not fond of the flavor. Coconut oil is versatile and can be used in most forms of cooking and baking; however, some people find the taste too strong or overwhelming in subtly seasoned recipes. If you do not want the strong taste of coconut to be obvious in your dishes, use expeller-pressed or deodorized coconut oil.
- Use butter in moderation. Butter contains a range of vitamins and nutrients, including Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be good for heart health. Butter does also contain cholesterol, true, but also offers a range of health benefits, such as helping you feel full for longer and boosting your metabolism.