Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
Hearing the word fat might conjure up some negative connotations. For the longest time, everyone was taught to stay away from all fats. However, recent research has show that eating the right kinds of fats are necessary for both optimal health and functioning and even weight loss. All things in moderation still holds true for good fats, but what's important is that you are eating the right kind and ditching the bad.
Unsaturated fats are the kind of fats you should be eating. These types of fats actually lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and boost the good kind (HDL). Unsaturated fats help prevent disease, support your brain functioning, and lower blood pressure.
Good fats are found in:
- coldwater fish (like salmon, tuna, sardines)
- nuts and seeds
- oils (like olive, flax and other vegetable oils)
- dark leafy greens.
Saturated fats, on the other hand, are the fats you shouldn't be eating. These are the fats that will cause weight gain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Fats to avoid high intake of include:
- Dairy (like cream and cheese)
- Animal fat (like meats)
Cutting these fats out completely isn't necessary though, because some saturated fats are needed in our diet. For instance, coconut oil, which is a saturated fat, has been shown to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Again, it's all things in moderation.
The worst type of fat for you, which should be avoided as much as possible, is trans fat, also known as hydrogenated fat. These fats are created when liquid vegetable oils are converted into solid fats via a hydrogenation process. Trans fats lower good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol. These fats are really common in processed foods, and you have to check the label for "hydrogenated oil" to see if what you are eating has trans fat. If it's an ingredient on the label, toss it. A lot of foods from your regular supermarket have trans fat, especially most junk food, or anything that seems processed.
Before we get to the fish recipe, I just wanted to take a quick moment to talk about low-fat products. It seems like it would make a lot of sense to eat low-fat products to minimize intake of saturated fats. However, the problem with low-fat foods is that when they remove the fat, they replace it with more sugar or salt and sometimes unhealthy chemicals. It also can result in increased calories.
So, go for the full fat or low-fat version? I'd say pay attention to labels, and try to keep intake of both low.
In the spirit of healthy fats, here is a really simple recipe for salmon, a food high in omega-3s. Ironically, I put cheese on top of this dish, but a little bit of grated cheese will go a long way!
Lemon Parmesan-Crusted Salmon
2 Garlic cloves
Parmesan cheese grated, to taste
2. Chop garlic and spread over salmon.
3. Squeeze half of the lemon half over the fish.
4. Spread grated parmesan cheese over salmon.
5. Squeeze the rest of the lemon over the cheese-covered salmon.
6. Bake for about 10-15 minutes (or less if you have a strong oven), until cheese starts to bubble and turn golden. Fish should be flaky.
Add lemon, to taste, if desired.