Monday, January 13, 2014

But It's Fat Free!?!

Happy New Year! Many people set the New Year’s resolution to eat healthy.  To some this means a low or non-fat diet.  Since the 1950’s most of us have been taught that a diet that includes high levels of fat will lead to heart disease.  Quite frankly fat has gotten a bad rap.  Now researchers are starting to realize the “all or nothing” mentality around fat is not the most appropriate dietary advice.

Here are some points to consider before reaching for that fat-free dressing, cookie or cracker.  

Eating fat free foods does not equal weight loss.  First, fat free does not mean calorie free!  Secondly, fat in foods delivers a feeling of satiety, the sense that we’ve had enough to eat.  When a meal does not contain fat, we tend keep eating until we’re truly stuffed (this is why we can eat a whole bag of fat free cookies and still feel hungary) and we end up with many more calories then if we would have added a little healthy fat to the meal.  

Fat is one of the three essential macro nutrients ( macro nutrients are necessary to maintain body function other macro nutrients are protein and carbohydrates)

Some fats are health-promoting, others are unhealthful. For example health promoting fats such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids help with proper hormone function, maintain the integrity of our cell ways, help absorb fat soluble nutrients such as Vitamin D and help keep us warm.

The opposite of the health- promoting fats are the unhealthful fats.  The unhealthful fats include heated, bleached and deodorized oils, and hydrogenated fats such as margarine and shortening. These contain trans fatty acids, which can double the rate of heart attack and raise the LDL, or bad cholesterol.

The good news is there are such things as good quality fats. Among the best are extra virgin olive oil, unrefined sesame and sunflower oil, unrefined flax seed oil, walnut oil, avocados, organic butter and clarified butter or ghee. Omega 3 fatty acids are in salmon and mackerel, as well as in flax seed oil. Omega 6's are in the sesame and sunflower oil. Fresh organic butter from healthy cows fed green grass can be an excellent source of natural Vitamin A.  If you are cooking at home from scratch, about 2 or 3 tablespoons of healthy fats per day gives us all the essential fatty acids we need. At the same time, it’s important to avoid deep fried foods, hydrogenated fats, and fats from unhealthy, commercially raised animals. Fat-free processed foods and snacks will always make you eat too much, encourage sugar cravings, and keep you unsatisfied. Good quality fats are good for your skin, hair, nails, immune system, heart, liver, nerves, and your satisfaction with food.

Here is a recipe with some good quality fats.
Mixed green salad with walnut oil dressing
4 cups mixed spring greens, or mesclun
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 Belgian endive, sliced crosswise into ½ inch pieces
1. Place the greens in a large salad bowl.
2. Mix the lime juice, oils, and salt, shake or whip well. Toss with the salad and serve. Sprinkle the Belgian endive slices evenly over each serving. Makes about 4 servings.

Fat-free Food: A Bad Idea

by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.