Healthy Living Blog

Is It Time for a “Fat-i-tude” Adjustment

Tina Miller, MS RDN Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijer.com/ahealthieryou

Are you fat-phobic?  The majority of Americans still believe that fat is a food group that should be avoided. But, not all fats are created equal!  Fat is essential to provide, and absorb, fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D.  Healthy fats, such as the polyunsaturated omega-3 type, actually help reduce your risk for heart disease.  And, monounsaturated fat intake has been associated with longevity and well-being, especially in those who follow a Mediterranean diet style of eating.

Big Fat Lie #1:  All fats will make you fat.

False.  The truth is that yes, all fats have 9 calories per gram, more than double that of carbohydrates and protein.  About 30% of your daily calorie intake should be from fat, mostly healthy fats.  The key here is to control portions.  Since fat is calorie-dense, keep portion sizes smaller each time you eat throughout the day, such as: 1-2 teaspoons spreads or oils (2 Tablespoons olive oil salad dressing), 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of nuts, or 1/3 of an avocado.  Healthy fats in moderate amounts will help you maintain a healthy body weight.

Big Fat Lie #2:  Omega-3 fats and Olive Oil are the only healthy fat.

False.  While these fats are beneficial, most plant-based fats are a combination of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.  When saturated fats, such as full fat dairy and high fat meats are replaced with mono and polyunsaturates disease risk decreases. However, not all saturated fats are “bad” – the truth is we are still learning.  Some are neutral, but the bottom line is to limit your saturated fat intake by choosing lean meats and reduced-fat diary.

Big Fat Lie #3:  I should avoid all high fat foods.

False.  Fat is crucial and plays a role in the development of nerve tissues, hormones, and brain function.  Healthy fats to emphasize:

  1. Omega-3 Fats: A group of fats that nourish heart and brain health.  Eat more fish (12 ounces per week), nuts-especially walnuts (about 1 ounce per day), and seeds such as flax and chia seeds.
  2. Monounsaturated fats are key for heart health. Olive oil, avocados, avocado oil are excellent sources of monounsaturated fats.
  3. Polyunsaturated fats also play a role in heart health and a healthy body weight. As a general rule, we eat mostly polyunsaturated fats and should actually eat more monounsaturated fat, but we should continue enjoying these healthy fats also found in a variety of nuts, seeds, cooking oils, and most plant based foods.
  4. Don’t avoid all Saturated Fat and Dietary Cholesterol. Yes, limit in your diet (to 7% of your calories according to the most recent dietary guidelines for Americans), but foods that contain modest amounts of sat. fats and cholesterol often offer many other beneficial nutrients.
    1. Egg yolks: In addition to cholesterol, provide choline for energy and brain development and the antioxidant nutrient vitamin E.
    2. Lean red meats: Limit to 3 – 4 servings per week.  These provide high quality protein as well as essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron.
    3. Coconut and Palm Kernel oils: These may be more neutral or even beneficial for health.  Like any other fat, these are calorie dense and portion size should be limited.  Processed food manufacturers have removed “trans fats” (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) and replaced many of those fats with palm and palm kernel oils, which are shelf stable.  Bottom line—moderate your intake of these fats including moderating intake of processed foods

Fat-i-licious Recipes

Arugula Pear Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 cups trimmed arugula, washed and drained (baby kale or spinach may be substituted)

2 pears, skin on, cut into 1-inch chunks (Michigan apples may be substituted)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

4 ounces Parmesan or Greek graviera cheese

Dressing:

4 tablespoons True Goodness by Meijer Organic Extra Virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons orange juice

Salt and pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, if desired

Directions:

  1. Place the arugula in a large bowl and add the chopped pears, and half of the walnuts: set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together. Pour the mixture over the salad, and toss to combine. Salt to taste.
  3. Sprinkle with grated cheese and the remaining chopped walnuts, and serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 210 calories, 13g fat, 4g saturated fat, 150mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 8g protein.

Recipe adapted from:  Oldways Preservation Trust, www.oldwayspt.org

Mediterranean Avocado Deviled Eggs

Serves 8-12

Ingredients:

12 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled

1 ripe, fresh avocado, seeded and peeled

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 lime, juiced and zested

½ teaspoon salt

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Directions:

  1. Cut the eggs lengthwise into halves. Slip out the yolks.
  2. In a medium bowl mash the yolks with a fork. Add the avocado and mash.
  3. Add the mayonnaise, cumin, capers, mustard, lime juice and zest, salt, and jalapeno to the egg yolk and avocado mixture. Mix well.
  4. With a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, fill the egg white halves with the egg yolk mixture (about 1 tablespoon in each half). Sprinkle with chili powder and garnish with cilantro.

Recipe adapted from:  Oldways Preservation Trust, www.oldwayspt.org