The fat free movement is on its way out and Ali Miller, registered dietitian and natural foods chef with The Life Long Weigh, unveils the facts on fats and shares a savory roasted nut recipe.
What are the healthiest fats and how can they be worked into a diet?
Whole food sources are the healthiest fats, which includes predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish, flax, chia seeds but also would include some saturated fats like those found in coconut oil, butter or animal products. There are CLAs, compounds in the dairy/animal fats that can be protective against disease/boost metabolism and when they are in an unprocessed form, such as butter vs. margarine our body will respond favorably.
What fats should be avoided?
Trans-fats are a man-made fat that is highly oxidized and our body is not capable of breaking it down so it is more prone to creating plaque build-up and lead to toxicity. In the processing of a healthy fat we can make a rancid or oxidized fat which can respond in the same way. Excess any fat can be negative so keeping portion control is important.
Is it true that a healthy fat can become an unhealthy fat? (What is a smoke point?)
Each fat has a unique temperature threshold or smoke point. When cooking it is important to select a fat that will tolerate heat. Olive oil has a peak temperature of 325 degrees, so when sauteing meats/vegetables on the stove top or bake/roast in the oven, we are typically using a heat at 350 degrees or above, this oxidizes the fats making them just as dangerous as a trans fat. Select a high-heat oil for roasting/grilling such as grapeseed, avocado, or almond oil.
Spicy Herb Roasted Nuts (yields 5 cups)
Savory, sweet, spicy, and salty cravings are all satisfied with this simple snack. Grab a 1/8 to 1/4 cup to curb appetite between meals.
- 1 1/2 cups almonds
- 1 1/2 cups walnut halves
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- ½ cup Brazil nuts, halved
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat oven 300°F. Mix almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, maple syrup, cayenne, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, savory, marjoram, and oil in a 10- by 15-inch rimmed pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle nuts with 1 teaspoon salt.
2. Bake on middle rack in oven, stirring occasionally, until all liquid evaporates and nuts are golden, about 45 minutes.
3. Let cool. Store in air-tight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Nutritional analysis per 1/4 cup: 187 calories, 19g fat (1.7 saturated), 7g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 77mg sodium
Facts on Fats (according to Ali Miller, RD, LD)*
I may be a rogue dietitian, but I do not promote a low-fat diet to my patients. Typically when we opt for fat free products we are selecting foods that are more processed, which provides more artificial binders, fillers, emulsifiers, etc. and these products also tend to have more sugar!
In America, we have seen the fat-free craze of the 80s-90s backfire as our country tops the charts with obesity. How is this happening?
1. Eating fat does not necessarily equal fat on the body. Our body can make fat out of any excess energy source and actually our body is quite efficient at packaging excessive sugar into fat stores. Keeping fat out of the diet may lower calories but it can also allow for more elevated blood sugar levels which in turn may promote fat storage!
2. Our body requires healthy fats for energy, insulating our organs, transmitting neurological signals, and preventing fatty acid deficiency. Fats stay in the stomach longest of all macronutrients and they stimulate specific neurotransmitters in our brain to signal satiety or a sense of being full.
Without healthy fats in our diet we will not feel satisfied with our meals/snacks and our body may not function optimally.
3. Healthy fats can boost our metabolism. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a type of fat that can boost metabolism, increase lean body mass, and aid with insulin receptor health which will balance blood sugar levels. CLAs are found in some saturated sources such as coconut, butter, and animal products; however, it is important you choose pasture-raised or grass-fed products for a significant source as grain-fed or conventional products will not provide adequate amounts. Another beneficial fat source is the
omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fats are anti-inflammatory protecting against heart disease and stroke while having the ability to burn up to 400 additional calories daily! Find these fats in your cold-water fish or supplement your diet with a high-quality fish oil.
When watching your fat intake it is important to consider portions and quality while allowing for a daily intake of healthy fats! For ideal portions we are usually looking for about 1 tsp of oils, 1/8 cup of nuts, 2 Tbsp seeds, 5-7 olives.
This may not sound like a lot, but the goal is that you are eating the fat with something else. As an example, nuts are a great choice with a piece of fresh fruit, oils are mixed with vinegar to make salad dressings and cover a large volume when tossed properly, or oils can coat our pan for cooking a lean protein and variety of veggies! If we skip out on these fats and use a spray Pam or fat-free salad dressing we may not feel as satisfied with our meal and our body may be hungry sooner which may lead to busting our calorie bank! Start small and use a variety of choices, your body with thank you and you will feel the difference.
For more information on building your ideal meal plan, check out www.lifelongweigh.com .