The Lowdown on Fats
So eating fat makes you fat, right? This typical thinking is actually very wrong! We’ve been taught to fear fat and many of us grew up in the era of low-fat everything. Low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, even fat-free half and half—what the heck is that stuff made of anyway?!
Where did this thinking come from? Well, it stems from the fact that fat inherently has more calories per gram than both protein and carbohydrates combined. So I suppose it would make sense that when you eat more fat, you get more fat. Thankfully, this isn’t exactly true.
Dietary fat is necessary for our bodies (it makes our skin and hair healthy!) and actually keeps us feeling full for longer! That’s why you might feel full longer after eating full-fat yogurt as opposed to the fat-free version. Now, before you slap butter on everything, let’s briefly talk about the different kinds of fat. After all, not all fat is created equal.
First off, Trans Fats
Trans fat – yikes this stuff is BAD. Also known as hydrogenated oil, it’s man-made and has VERY NEGATIVE effects on our health. There are a few foods that have naturally occurring trans fats; these are NOT bad for you.
Generally we find BAD trans fats in highly processed foods like boxed meals, stick margarine, commercially-prepared baked goods and vegetable shortening. If you see the word hydrogenated oil in the ingredients list, back away…
Saturated fat—mostly found in animal products and coconut oil—was once thought to be the sole cause for heart disease. But based on new research, saturated fat may not be as bad as we once thought—although it still can raise your cholesterol levels. However, this is no excuse to go crazy with it by eating coconut oil by the spoonful or a 30-ounce steak daily. Choosing 2% milk or yogurt is not going to kill you, but let’s still keep the saturated fat to a minimum.
There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: Omega 3 and Omega 6. Both are essential for us human beings. Omega 6 is pretty easy to get and most of us (especially Americans) are getting PLENTY of it—in the form of corn and soybean/vegetable oils. It’s literally in almost everything – potato chips fried in corn oil, salad dressing made from soybean oil—it’s everywhere. Although Omega 6s are necessary, too much can lead to inflammation and other health issues.
Omega 3s, on the other hand, are as great as they’re touted to be. Most of us are not actually getting enough of this beneficial anti-inflammatory. Omega 3s are found mostly in cold-water fatty fish (think salmon, tuna, herring, sardines) as well as chia seeds and flax seeds (although our body doesn’t absorb these forms quite as well). Decreasing your intake of Omega 6s and increasing those great Omega 3s would do you well! Yay for more chia seeds! One of my favorites!
Saving the Best for Last, Monounsaturated fats
These guys are the best! And they have so many benefits, including lowering our cholesterol and decreasing inflammation. Good sources of these wonderful fats include nuts, seeds, peanuts, olives, olive oil and avocados!! Cue a delicious avocado snack 🙂
A few things to keep in mind
- This was a VERY brief overview of fats, not at all intended to be a complete review
- Our overall diet really does matter, not JUST the types of fat we choose
- A simple swap can make a huge difference—swap out those potato chips for our monounsaturated fat-filled avocado rice cake snack below!
- Eating fat doesn’t automatically make you fat, but eating too much and sitting around just might pack on the pounds. It all starts with eating the good stuff!
Remember, moderation is the key to everything! So check out our avocado rice cake snack for a healthy-fat filled, delicious snack! Dalton-approved! 🙂Print
Super-fast, super-easy, super-delicious! No more boring rice cakes here!
- 1 plain brown rice cake
- 1/2 ripe avocado (it should yield slightly to a gentle squeeze, but it shouldn’t be mushy or rock-hard), halved and pit removed
- Drizzle of tamari, soy sauce, liquid aminos or coconut aminos
- White or black sesame seeds
- Scoop the avocado flesh out of the skin and slice
- Spread the avocado out over the rice cake
- Drizzle with tamari and sesame seeds
What are your favorite healthy snacks? Comment below and let us know! Don’t forget to subscribe to get fresh recipes delivered straight to your inbox!