For the last couple of years, headlines the world over have declared that fat is back.
When I started on my healthy eating journey, I read a book that warned of the dangers of dietary fat. Its advice? Fat free everything (luckily, it favoured whole foods). I began dutifully ‘sautéing’ with water, nixing almonds for raisins and loading up my toast with jam instead of ‘fatty’ peanut butter.
Around me, North Americans were embracing the fat free trend with gusto. Supermarkets filled with fat free cookies, snack foods and convenience items. What were those products made of? White flour, sugar and fillers. And the more we ate, the more we gained weight.
Fast forward to present day. One in four Canadian adults and more than one in three adult Americans suffer from obesity. And our hearts? Research has confirmed that while saturated fat may not be as strongly linked with heart disease as once thought, overdosing on sugar may drive you to a heart attack.
From no fat…to all the fat?
Before you start throwing steaks on the barbeque every night, consider this: while fat is an important part of a healthy diet, quality still counts. For many reasons, particularly relating to the health of the gut and inflammation, eating nonstop cheese-beef-butter won’t do you any favours. The most recent Cochrane Review on saturated fat and heart disease holds firm: easing up on saturated fat is still the way to go.
The question is, what to replace it with? If you replace saturated fat with sugar and white flour, your risk of chronic disease may go up. However, when you replace saturated animal fats with healthier plant-based fats, your risk of disease diminishes. In addition to keeping the heart healthy, beneficial fats also help to keep blood sugars stable, calm inflammation and improve the health of your skin.
It’s time to abandon the notion that fat is fattening. In fact, the more you eat fibre-rich whole foods containing healthy fats, which slow stomach emptying, the more you will satisfy your appetite.
Ready to get started? Boost beneficial fats in your life with these ten simple ideas
- Swap butter on sandwiches for hummus, nut butter or mashed avocado.
- Mix 1 cup softened butter with 1 cup extra virgin olive oil to make ‘better butter’ that stays spreadable, even in the fridge.
- Embrace the avocado toast trend. Mash 1/3 of an avocado with a bit of salt and pepper and layer with your favourite toppings.
- Snack on raw nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pecans.
- Add hemp seeds to your smoothie for a boost of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids and protein.
- Try a chia seed pudding for breakfast!
- Throw some sardines, herring or salmon on the grill instead of steak.
- Thin out hummus with a bit of water or lemon juice and use as a replacement for creamy salad dressings
- Try adding ground almonds to your baking
- Try sesame butter (tahini) for making creamy sauces…without the cream!