Don't Fear the Fats
Fat? What are they good for?
We got Back to the Nutrition Basics, so it’s about time we dive a little bit deeper into that basic healthy eating formula (remember: carbs + protein + healthy fats = satisfied).
Although more calorie dense than carbs and protein, (9 calories/gram vs. 4 calories/gram in carbs and protein) fats play many important roles in our bodies, including aiding in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K), maintaining optimal hormone balance and brain health, regulating our body temperature, as well as supporting the health of our hair, skin and nails. In addition, fat helps keep us satisfied for longer because it’s digested more slowly than carbs and protein. So for the people questioning their fat consumption while trying to lose weight - yes, it’s still very important!
Of course, some fats are better for us than others. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products, baked goods and fried foods. It’s generally best to consume these in moderation for overall (and heart!) health. Trans fats, aka hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, found in some processed and fried foods should be avoided completely.
Heart Healthy Fats
Now for the good stuff, or what we might know as “Heart Healthy Fats”: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, olive, peanut, canola and many nut oils. Foods containing monounsaturated fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Polyunsaturated fats are broken down into two main categories (although there are more!): omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils like soybean, sunflower and safflower oils. Most foods contain a combination of different types of fat, and because these oils are consumed so often in the Standard American Diet, It’s important to focus on the other type of polyunsaturated fat which many of us are typically lacking in - Omega 3 fatty acids. These fats are found in seafood, nuts, soy, flax/hemp/pumpkin/chia seeds, and dark green vegetables. Omega 3s have been shown to reduce inflammation, aid in the reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and support brain health.
The E+R Cookie Dough Bites (pictured above) are loaded with omega 3’s from almonds, peanut butter, chia seeds and flaxseed. The combination of these healthy fats with protein (from nuts and seeds) and carbs (from dates) makes for an ideal snack that’ll keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal!
1/2 C + 1 TBSP. WALNUTS
1/4 C ROLLED OATS
1/3 C TAHINI
1/4 CUP CACAO POWDER
2 TBSP. HEMP SEEDS
8 DATES (PITTED)
1 TBSP. AGAVE/HONEY/MAPLE SYRUP
SPRINKLE OF HIMALAYAN SALT
PLACE WALNUTS AND OATS IN FOOD PROCESSOR AND PROCESS UNTIL WELL COMBINED. ABOUT 30 SECONDS.
ADD REMAINING INGREDIENTS AND PROCESS UNTIL A SLIGHTLY STICKY DOUGH FORMS. ADD A SPLASH OF WATER OR MORE SWEETENER IF THE MIXTURE ISN'T COMING TOGETHER.
PLACE DOUGH IN THE REFRIGERATOR FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES.
ROLL INTO BITE SIZED BALLS AND ENJOY. YIELDS ABOUT 18 BITES.
Author: Lara Harris, MS, RD, LD, registered dietitian and owner of The Well Fed Guide, LLC.