By Natalie Stein, MS Nutrition
What does it mean when Lark tells you to eat healthy fats? Aren’t they…well…fatty? It turns out that you need fat not only for nutrient absorption and optimal health, but also for easiest weight loss, since fat helps keep you full and satisfied for hours. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as “eat fat, lose weight.”
Tricks to fatty foods:
Right type of fats – high in healthy unsaturated fats, low in unhealthy saturated and trans fats.
Right serving size – fat calories can add up fast, and serving sizes might be smaller than you think.
Right nutrient package – healthy fat foods usually come with other healthy nutrients.
Right add-ons – eat your fats with lower- calorie, nutritious foods to get a filling meal for weight loss.
Ground flaxseed has alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It may help lower risk of heart disease and reduce levels of chronic inflammation in your body.
Choose ground over whole flaxseed for better nutrient absorption.
Per 2-tablespoon serving, but they provide fiber and cholesterol-lowering components called lignans. Sprinkle flaxseed on cereal, yogurt, salads, and sandwiches, and add it to soups and casseroles.
Use it in salads:
Right type of fats – 3.2 grams of ALA Right serving size – 2 tablespoons have 75 calories.
Right nutrient package – Fiber and cholesterol-lowering components called lignans
Right add-ons – sprinkle on hot or cold cereal, yogurt, salads, and soups.
Flaxseed oil is higher in ALA, with 7.3 grams per tablespoon, but it does not provide the amounts of fiber and lignans you get in flaxseed.
Avocados are rich in monounusaturated fats (MUFA), which can lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.
Right type of fats – 2/3 of its fat is MUFA. Right serving size – 2 ounces, or about ½ of a small avocado, have 90 calories.
Right nutrient package – folate, potassium, and fiber.
Right add-ons – salads and lean proteins to balance the heaviness of the avocado.
Avocado is a nice addition to soups to make them creamier. Try this: add 1 diced onion, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 2 lbs of peeled cubes of butternut squash or acorn squash, 3 cups fresh spinach leaves, 1 peeled, mashed avocado, cups of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, and black pepper and cumin to taste to a pot. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft enough to stir into the mixture. Serve it with fresh parsley or cilantro.
Salmon itself is not a fat, but it is one of the best sources of one of the best types of fat: long-chain omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA and EPA.
Right type of fats – rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Right serving size –3 ounces of cooked salmon have 127 calories.
Right nutrient package – protein, B vitamins, potassium, and selenium.
Right add-ons – veggies and high-fiber carbs to complement the protein and fat in salmon.
Try this weight loss meal: Mix ½ cup low-sodium cannellini or white beans (drained), 1 teaspoon diced capers, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Sear 3 ounces of salmon in a pan with cooking spray. Add the salmon and bean mixture to 2 cups of baby arugula mixed with ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes. 370 calories, 27 grams protein, 8 grams fiber.
Other types of fatty fish have DHA and EPA, too – think herring, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Just avoid high- mercury species such as king mackerel, swordfish, and shark.
Olive oil is used liberally in a Mediterranean diet pattern, and it probably contributes to many of the diet’s benefits. Like avocados, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFA).
Right type of fats - MUFA
Right serving size – 2 teaspoons of olive oil have 80 calories
Right nutrient package – improves nutrient absorption from other foods.
Right add-ons – salads and other vegetables and lean proteins.
You can make a basic salad dressing by mixing olive oil with an equal amount of rice, white wine, or balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice, and adding herbs to flavor it if you want.
Try this easy salad dressing for four people: Mix 3 tablespoons olive oil with ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 clove crushed garlic. Use it as is, or vary it by adding dried Italian herbs or any combination of fresh basil, oregano, thyme, or rosemary. Serve it on greens or make a 1-bowl meal with ½ cup cooked whole grain pasta or barley, 1/3 cup each of halved cherry tomatoes, 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms, and 1/3 cups chopped bell pepper, and 3 ounces cooked diced chicken breast or tofu.
Macadamias have more MUFA than any other kind of nut, but the fat in other nuts is mostly healthy, too. Each ounce of macadamias has 21.5 grams of total fat, including 16.7 grams of MUFA.
- Right type of fats – Great source of MUFA. Right serving size – 1 ounce has 201 calories.
- Right nutrient package – thiamin, magnesium, and manganese.
- Right add-ons – Low-calorie veggies, fruits, and lean proteins to complement the heaviness of the nuts.
Macadamias have more MUFA than any other kind of nut, but the fat in other nuts is mostly healthy, too. Each ounce of macadamias has 21.5 grams of total fat, including 16.7 grams of MUFA.Try this recipe for nut-topped tilapia and serve 1/4 recipe with cooked veggies such as broccoli or green beans and a whole grain or (low-carb or paleo) 1 ounce of parmesan cheese. Mix ¼ cup chopped macadamias (or other nuts) with 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley, the juice from 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of pineapple or orange juice, and 1 crushed clove of garlic.
Spread the mixture over 4 4-ounce fillets of tilapia, and bake 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Each serving has 180 calories.
It turns out that you need fat not only for nutrient absorption and optimal health, but also for easiest weight loss, since fat helps keep you full and satisfied for hours. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as “eat fat, lose weight", but if you add more of these types of healthy fats to your diet, you'll see the results in no time!