Monday, November 4, 2013
If there was one thing that I learned in Italy this summer, it is that all fats should NOT be treated equally. It is important to be able to recognize healthier fats and try to minimize certain less healthy fats in your diet.
For a general rule of thumb, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. They can be found in many animal products such as cheese, meat, milk, etc. Foods that have lots of butter and shortening are also high in saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends getting less then 7% of total calories from saturated fats.
Trans fats are found in highly processed foods. They are unsaturated fats that have been altered by hydrogenation to make them more solid. Both trans and saturated fats should be consumed in minimal amounts because of their tendency to raise LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”).
Unsaturated fats dominate the Mediterranean diet. They are consumed in much higher amounts then saturated fats. During the 7 Countries Study performed by Ancel Keys, Cretans were consuming around 40% of daily calories (that’s a lot of olive oil!) from unsaturated fats, yet they were living longer and healthier lives than Americans consuming saturated fats. An unsaturated fat contains at least one double bond in its conformation. Monounsatured fats are often times noted as being “good fats,” and come from vegetable oils such as olive oil. These fats will actually lower LDL cholesterol.
Another type of unsaturated fat is called polyunsatured (meaning multiple double bonds). Polyunsaturated fats get broken down further into Omega 3’s or Omega 6’s. Omega 3’s come from sources such as fatty fish, walnuts, or flax seed, while Omega 6’s are from things like soybean or corn oils. Omega 3’s and 6’s competitively compete in the body and ingesting more Omega 3’s is considerably better to reduce inflammation.
Fat intake should always be monitored mainly because of its high choleric density, effects on cholesterol, and heart health. Be a smart consumer by checking nutrition labels for fat content, and try the Mediterranean style of using vegetable fats rather then butter while cooking or baking.
Friday, November 1, 2013
It’s official! Fall has arrived and with it comes a season full of beautiful changing leaves, fun holidays and my personal favorite… delicious foods! Here in New Hampshire there are all sorts of foods that are in season during fall. What’s even better is many of them are packed with nutrients!
This one might be obvious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great! Apples are one of the fruits just coming into season here in NH and they are a great addition to any diet. You’ve heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and it might hold some truth. Apples are filled with Vitamin C, Potassium and fiber all of which can help you keep healthy. Two classic fall recipes that include apples are Apple Pie and Apple Crisp. You can also have them as a snack or treat dipped in Peanut Butter or Caramel.
Carrots are another delicious option that is now in season in NH. Carrots are packed with all sorts of Vitamins and Minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin C. They are filled with antioxidants that help prevent against heart disease and cancer. Carrots are also great for keeping your eyes healthy and your vision strong. Carrots can be included in all sorts of fall recipes or eaten on their own.
Pumpkins are another great vegetable that are just coming into season. In addition to being the designated flavor or fall, pumpkins also pack a punch nutritionally. They are rich in carotenoids, which have the potential reduce the risk of various types of cancer. Not only that, pumpkins also are a great source of fiber. There are all sorts of recipes that use pumpkins including pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie or pumpkin muffins. If you are looking for a stand alone option, try substituting pumpkin for one of its cousins like winter or butternut squash. Either of those taste great cooked and used as a vegetable side!
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