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  • Cathy Holligan

What's the Deal With Dietary Fat?!

I grew up in the midst of the “fat free” food craze. The food industry came out with product after product, all boasting “fat free” in bold print across their packaging. We were taught fat was the enemy. But in more recent years, fat is making a comeback. So what’s the deal? Are dietary fats good or bad?

The short answer is, both because not all fats are the same.


You want to avoid highly processed, hydrogenated trans fats that are often found in prepared, packaged foods. Trans fats can be extremely damaging to your body. They are linked to a host of issues such as cardiovascular disease, a compromised immune system and behavioral disorders in kids. They raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol and put you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Further, consumption of trans fats may cause acne, weight gain and high blood pressure.

Trans fats are most commonly found in fried foods, donuts, baked goods including cakes, pies, cookies and pizza. To determine the amount of trans fat in packaged food, check the nutrition label. You can also spot trans fats by reading the ingredients listed on the package and looking for “partially hydrogenated oils”. Trans fats should be limited to 1% of your daily calories. So if you eat 2,000 calories a day, you should not consume more than 2 grams of trans fat daily.

That said, our bodies do need fat. Fat is necessary for insulation, vitamin and mineral absorption, and to protect our organs, and promote brain health. High-quality fats or healthy fats, as I like to call them, can steady your metabolism, keep hormone levels even, and nourish skin, hair, and nails.



Here is a list of healthy fats to incorporate into your diet:

  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Salmon

  • Sardines

  • Nuts (walnuts are a great source)

  • Seeds (especially flax and pumpkin)

  • Nut butters

  • Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

  • Pastured eggs

When shopping for healthy fats, look for organic, first pressed, cold pressed, extra virgin and unrefined on the label. Avoid expeller pressed, refined and solvent extracted.

If you are cooking with healthy fats, you can use avocado oil, ghee or coconut oil for high heat. Olive oil is better for low heat sautéing, as a topping for steamed veggies or in salad dressing. Other oils that are good for sauces or dressings are flaxseed, sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed oils.


To check many healthy-fat boxes at once, I like to make a salad and eat it with a piece of broiled salmon.


Check out my recipe below:


Kale Salad with Salmon - Serves 2


Salad

4 handfuls curly kale washed and roughly chopped

½ head of shredded red cabbage

4 TBSP pumpkin seeds

¼ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 avocado cut into cubes

Champagne Vinaigrette

¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1.5 TBSP champagne vinegar

1 tsp maple syrup

½ tsp fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp Himalayan salt


Salmon

(Buy wild or organic salmon when possible for maximum health benefits.)

2 six ounce pieces salmon

Himalayan salt to taste

2 tsp avocado oil

Directions:

Place the kale and cabbage into a large bowl and combine. Next, top the kale and cabbage with the tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and avocado.

Make the dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking together with a fork or hand blender.

Set the oven to broil. Wash and dry salmon filets. Place on a baking sheet or roasting pan and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle 1 tsp of avocado oil over each filet. Place in the oven and cook for roughly 15 minutes. (I like mine more well-done). Cooking time will also depend on your oven and the thickness of the piece of salmon.

Once the salmon is cooked, drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly. Divide the salad onto two plates and top each one with a piece of salmon.


Then dig in and load up on some amazingly delicious healthy fats!


Cooking Tip : Check with your fishmonger for recommendations on cook time.

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