Friday, October 9, 2015

Let's Talk Eats: Healthy Fats

Hello Everybody!

How is your fall going so far?  While I love Spring, I think October is my favorite month.  I love the fall colors, wearing warmer clothes, sitting by a fire on a cool evening, all things pumpkin!  Plus we have one more month to relax and enjoy before the crazy that is the holidays is upon us!

So, let's talk about Healthy Fats!   If you haven't already, check out these posts to catch up on what I'm talking about!

As we've been discussing, restriction and denial of certain foods doesn't always work.  If you're trying to cut out "bad" food, it typically will backfire and you'll end up craving or binging on those foods or food groups. 

Instead of thinking about what not to eat, let's focus on what we can eat MORE of or add in.  That sounds so much better, doesn't it? And totally achievable! When we make choices based on things we want to add in, some of those other less desirable choices will naturally happen less frequently. Doesn't that sound easy?
Fat has really earned a bad rap over the last few decades.  Raise your hand if you've been on a "low fat" diet at some point in your life (Me! Me!!). However, in the more recent years, research has shown that certain fats are not only good for us, but necessary for our bodies and brains to function properly.

To understand good and bad fats, it's helpful to know the names of the players and some information about them. There are four major types of fats (source):

  • monounsaturated fats (good fats)
  • polyunsaturated fats (good fats)
  • trans fats (bad fats)
  • saturated fats (bad fats)... although there is recent research showing the saturated fats aren't as bad as once thought

According to this article: the American Heart Association recommends 15-25 percent of daily calories should be devoted to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats:
  • are shown to improve cholesterol levels
  • may help reduce risk factors of heart disease and stroke
  • may help reduce risk of diabetes
  • could promote healthy nerve activity
  • are shown to improve vitamin absorption
  • are required to maintain healthy immune system
  • promote cell development
In addition to those reasons, including healthy fats in your meals and snacks will make them more satisfying and filling, preventing those impulse eats you may have throughout the day!

Monounsaturated fatPolyunsaturated fat
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Peanut butter
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu

Here are a few easy ways to incorporate healthy fats in your diet:
  • Use olive oil on your daily salad vs traditional salad dressing
  • Add avocado to salads, soups, sandwiches - delicious and makes them more satisfying
  • Top your breakfast oatmeal or yogurt with walnuts or almonds for a meal that will stick with you longer
  • One of my favorite lunches, a protein bowl: mix broccoli, quinoa, beans (I like black beans or edamame) or chicken, avocado, a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste - serve warm. Yummy and filling!
  • Eat fatty fish 2 times per week - like grilled salmon for dinner and tuna or sardines for lunch (on your salad!)
  • Make guacamole as a dip for veggies
  • Have an apple with peanut or almond butter for a snack
  • Create your own trail mix - mix nuts with a little dried fruit, great for snacks!

Check out these posts with recipes that add in healthy fats (can you tell I love avocado?!):
Remember, healthy fats are not only good for us, our brains and bodies need them to function at their highest level. See what you can do this week to make sure you're consciously thinking about adding in some healthy fats at least a few times each day.  And get out there and enjoy your October!  

What other ways are you getting healthy fat in your diet each day?  Please share with me in the comments!
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