Saturday, October 17, 2015

Foods with Good Fats

The word is out. Fat—or at least “good fat”—is not something you should shun from your diet. Monounsaturated fat, a staple in the Mediterranean diet, is the “good fat” that may actually help you lose weight, whittle your middle, keep blood sugar levels in check, lower harmful LDL-cholesterol and much more. According to the American Heart Association, no more than 25%-35% of your total calories should come from fat–and in an ideal world all those calories should be from “good fats.” Following are a dozen good-for-you fats that you could incorporate into your diet.

Pine Nuts (1 oz): Approx 5.3 grams of Good Fat  
Most commonly associated with pesto, pine nuts are also delicious when added to salads, vegetable dishes or baked into bread. With 5g of monounsaturated fat per one-ounce serving, pine nuts help to lower bad LDL cholesterol and prevent heart disease and strokes. They’re also rich in iron—great news for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Looking to shed a few pounds? Pine nuts may help, since they contain pinolenic acid, a specific fatty acid that helps you to eat less by suppressing your appetite.

Olive Oil (1 tablespoon): Approx 9.85 g of Good Fat
Just one tablespoon of olive oil contains about 10g of monounsaturated fat, and only 2g of saturated fat. Due to its high monounsaturated content, olive oil is a terrific option for boosting heart health. Use regular olive oil to sauté a variety of colorful veggies or you can even bake with it. Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of the olives and contains the highest antioxidant levels, but these also start degrading sooner when exposed to heat and light. To make the most out of your purchase, use the more expensive extra-virgin kind for drizzling and homemade salad dressings.

Peanut Butter (1 tablespoon): Approx 3.3 g of Good Fat
With close to 4g of monounsaturated fat per 1-tablespoon serving, peanut butter provides a hearty dose of fiber, as well as other important vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes—compared to those individuals who rarely eat nuts. Spread natural, unsalted peanut butter on crunchy apple slices or add it to a smoothie. A word of caution: Peanuts are grown underground and are known to be highly moldy and inflammatory. People with candida should avoid these nuts.

Avocado (1/5th medium avocado): Approx 3 g of Good Fat  
They’re delicious, creamy and luscious, so what’s not to love about avocados? A 1-oz. serving contains approximately 3g of fat, and 75% of that fat comes from the “good” monos and polys. Avocados also contain nearly 20 different vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients including vitamin E, folic acid, fiber and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Avocados have been shown to act as a nutrient-booster, so you can absorb more of the fat-soluble beneficial carotenoids in plant foods. In addition to your favorite guacamole, try fresh avocados on salads, sandwiches or toast, on top of your tomato or in veggie soup.

Hazelnuts (1 oz): Approx 12.9 g of Good Fat
With nearly 13 grams of monounsaturated fat per ounce, hazelnuts may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Besides being a heart-healthy choice, hazelnuts are also rich in manganese and copper, vital minerals for iron absorption and bone formation, respectively.

Flaxseed Oil (1 tablespoon): Approx 2.5 g of Good Fat
A rich source of soluble fiber, with almost 3g of monounsaturated fat per tablespoon, studies suggest that flaxseed oil may benefit individuals with heart disease and aid in cancer prevention. Use this slightly nutty tasting oil to make salad dressings, add to soups and smoothies for an extra boost of nutrition, or stir into your favorite pasta sauce for an added dose of good-for-you fat. Since flaxseed oil turns rancid rather quickly, be sure to refrigerate it after opening, and avoid exposure to light. When purchasing flax seed oil, look for the cold-pressed variety, since it has been processed at a minimum temperature to preserve its integrity. Flaxseed oil is not heat stable, so try to eat it raw.

Pistachios (1 oz): Approx 6.7 g of Good Fat  
About 90% of the fat in pistachios is healthy unsaturated fat, and research shows that when individuals with elevated cholesterol ate pistachios as a daily snack, their blood levels of antioxidants increased and harmful LDL-cholesterol levels declined, compared to those who did not eat pistachios. A serving of pistachios has 7g of monounsaturated fats, 4g of polyunsaturated fats and just 1.5g of saturated fat. Because nuts are calorie-rich, keep portions in mind: There are 49 pistachios in a 1-oz serving, and 30 pistachios contain about 100 calories. Enjoying pistachios as a snack instead of carb-rich options like crackers or pretzels is a smart swap. Pistachios provide more fiber and may also keep you feeling fuller longer. A word of caution: Pistachios are said to quite moldy and therefore inflammatory. People with candida probably should avoid these nuts.

Olives (10 large olives): Approx 3.4 g of Good Fat
Whether you are partial to green, black, purple or brown — all olive varieties are rich in monounsaturated fat. In fact, recent research shows that the monounsaturated fat found in olives can help to decrease blood pressure. As an added benefit, olives are also loaded with antioxidants, which may offer protection against heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Consider whipping up an olive tapenade as a sandwich spread or baguette topper, sprinkling chopped olives into a salad or adding olives to a tasty marinade for chicken or fish. A word of caution: People with candida should avoid the olives in vinegar or a brine (which is the majority of olives) as may trigger candida growth.

Walnuts (1 oz): Approx 2.53 g of Good Fat  
With nearly 3g of healthy monounsaturated fat per 1-oz serving, walnuts are also nutritional dynamos, packing a powerful punch of protein, fiber, magnesium, and phosphorus — all important nutrients for optimal health.

Sunflower Seeds (1 oz): Approx 3.07 g of Good Fat
Sunflower seeds are a true nutritional powerhouse packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber, minerals and phytochemicals. And, since almost 90% of the fat in sunflower seeds is the good unsaturated fat, they are a terrific choice for individuals suffering from high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Just 1 ounce of sunflower seeds provides 76% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin E. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top of a salad or simply roast in the oven for 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Sunflower seeds heaped on freshly steamed broccoli or salads is quite the treat. They also make good pate-dips for celery and carrot sticks or spreads for breads.

Almonds (1 oz): Approx 8.9 g of Good Fat
Reaching for a small handful of almonds will supply you with a tasty, protein-packed snack that contains 9g of monounsaturated fat per 1-oz serving — that’s about 23 whole almonds. This nutrient-dense nut is also a terrific source of vitamin E, magnesium and manganese, as well as a good source of fiber, copper, phosphorus and riboflavin. A 1-oz serving of almonds has a similar amount of antioxidants to one cup of green tea or ½ cup of steamed broccoli.

Sesame Seeds (1 oz): Approx 3 g of Good Fat
A delicacy in Asian cuisine, just one ounce of sesame seeds supplies 3 grams of heart smart monounsaturated fat, not to mention 35% of the recommended daily requirements for calcium. In addition to being a top source of monounsaturated fat, sesame seeds also contain two strains of beneficial fiber—sesamin and sesamolin—which have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect. Sesame seeds are a terrific source of zinc, an essential mineral for producing collagen. Add protein-rich sesame seeds to baked chicken, fish or salads for a nice, nutty flavor and texture, use them to make homemade tahini, or incorporate sesame seeds into a unique spice blend, like this Middle Eastern Za’atar. A word of caution: People who have polyps, gastric disorders or other GI disorders probably should avoid sesame seeds as they are known to stick to the GI track.

There are many nuts and seeds that are available in the market and are rich in good-for-you fats. Here is a useful chart to refer to when trying to alternate nuts (and flavors) and trying to pack in those nourishing fats.

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