healthy_grilled_salmon


Distinguishing between healthy fats and bad fats is one of the most important first steps to improving your diet, long-term health, and the way you feel. I used to believe that a healthy diet meant consuming as little dietary fat as possible. Trying to follow the “fat-free” craze, I was immediately turned off from anything with even a trace amount of fat in it, even if it contained mostly healthy fats. Under the impression that all fats were evil, I never really paid attention to the little subcategories…

Taking an amazing nutrition class this past semester with Roberta Anding, MS,RD/LD,CSSD,CDE opened my eyes to the truth about fats: that banning them completely from your diet is NOT the healthiest way to live, and that “eating fat will make you fat” is actually a misconception. The key is understanding the different types of fat. Replacing bad fats with right kinds of fats (in moderation of course) in a healthy overall diet actually promotes health and prevents disease more effectively than getting rid of all fats.

The basic types of fat:

  • Saturated
  • Trans
  • Unsaturated
    • Monounsaturated
    • Polyunsaturated
      • Omega-3
      • Omega-6

 The BAD fats: trans and saturated

toxicTrans fat is evil and you should avoid it at all costs. It raises bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers good cholesterol (HDL), a thin mints transdouble whammy for your heart. Common sources of trans fats are margarine, vegetable shortening (crisco), deep fried things, fast food, processed foods, especially packaged baked goods. Some trans fats are found naturally in animal products, but most are created through food processing. Food manufacturers take unsaturated liquid oil and partially saturate the double bonds by adding hydrogen gas (process of hydrogenation), transforming it into a solid trans fat to increase the shelf life of foods. These oils are called partially-hydrogenated – whenever you see this phrase in the ingredients list, sound your alarms! Even if the package claims “no trans fat,” there might STILL BE TRANS FAT because of lax regulations- anything that has less than .5 g is allowed to say it has no trans fat. Food manufacturers can be sneaky by simply decreasing the serving size so the amount of trans fat falls within these requirements.

~MM healthy tips~

1) The best way to reduce your chances of consuming malicious trans fats is don’t eat processed junk or fast food. But if this isn’t an option for you, at least check the ingredients to make sure you don’t see “partially-hydrogenated” or “shortening” anywhere!

Crisco_shortening

2) Even if something says “cholesterol-free” doesn’t mean it won’t raise your cholesterol! Vegetable shortening obviously has no cholesterol itself being a plant source, but the trans and saturated fat it contains can have WORSE effects on your blood cholesterol than consuming dietary cholesterol itself.

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garbanzos con espinacas



“Garbonzos con espinacas” (chickpeas with spinach) is a healthy dish popular in Sevilla, Spain and can be eaten alone or as a side dish or tapa. It uses ingredients commonly found in the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and uses olive oil as the main source of fat. Lower rates of heart disease and cancer are no-doubt connected to a diet so packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber!

olive oilOlive Oil: While there is no difference in calories from 1 tsp of butter and 1 tsp olive oil, their effects on your body are COMPLETELY different. Butter, solid animal fats, and the fat found in many processed junk foods are saturated fats, which are bad because they will raise your cholesterol, and this effect is heightened in combination with an unhealthy overall diet high in simple sugars. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which has one double bond and is liquid at room temperature. It is one of the two types of fats (the other is omega-3) that are actually beneficial and heart-healthy. Olive oil also has antioxidants and other beneficial plant-derived compounds. (Read more about choosing healthy fats)

saffron

Saffron: An exotic spice highly valued for its color, flavor, and medicinal properties. It has vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidant properties. Just a pinch can give rich flavor and color to an entire dish. It is used widely in Spanish cuisine in dishes like saffron rice and paellas. Studies suggest saffron combats depression, helps maintain memory and cognitive functioning, protects the liver, reduces risk of cancer, helps prevent/treat macular degeneration, and promotes good eyesight!

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Ingredients

(Serves 4-5 people)

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