There are a few food topics that show up again and again in the news and fitness magazines, and fat in our diets is one of them. Is fat healthy? Which fats are best? In my experience as a dietitian, I have heard many differing views on fat and what we should be eating.
Dr Oz had a show where he talked about the fat in dairy (saturated fat) and said that we actually need to eat full fat dairy to be able to absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the food. To me, this is an example of getting only one side of the story. Eating saturated fat increases our bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, increasing our risk of heart disease. After that show, I had (many) people I counseled say that they had switched to full fat dairy and would not consider changing back. Ack!
So, here's the deal. Yes - dairy contains some great fat soluble vitamins that we need. Yes - we need to eat fat to absorb those vitamins. BUT - that does not mean we need to eat the saturated fat from dairy (or other animal products) to absorb the vitamins, ANY fat will do. SO - if you add some almonds or almond butter, toasted pecans, peanut butter, or ANY nut to your fat free morning yogurt, you will have plenty of healthy fat to absorb the vitamins, and a more complete meal/snack! You can add avocado to your lean chicken breast, nuts to your cereal and skim milk, peanut butter to your smoothie, etc etc. Send me a full fat dairy or meat dish and I can find you a healthy fat to add to the meal instead!
One of my favorite, quick breakfasts is: fat free Fage greek yogurt, 1 tbsp almond butter, topped with fresh raspberries and a few crumbled toasted pecans. It takes 60 seconds to prepare and I enjoy it every time. Any fresh fruit or nut can be used, whatever is in season or is your favorite. I get a serving of healthy fat, a serving of high protein dairy, and a serving of fresh fruit. For about the same calories as a tiny full fat yogurt.
A note on peanut butter: Peanut butter contains healthy fats. There is no reason to purchase reduced fat peanut butter. Hungry Girl recommends it in her emails and it drives me mad. The worst thing about reduced fat peanut butter? It has the EXACT same calories as regular!! How is that possible? They actually add sugar to the mix, removing a healthy fat and adding back junk. When you are buying peanut butter, the best ones just say "peanuts" and maybe "salt". My favorite brands are Stop & Shop and Teddy (I like the Teddy with the flax meal added).
I just attended a great presentation in transfats, but I think that is a whole separate post to share what I learned (spoiler: transfats are definitely bad!).
Shows like Dr Oz that need to fill 5 shows per week with something are a part of why I think we are so confused about what to actually eat. The best part of my job is trying to help people cut through the noise and find a healthy balance.
What is the the latest fad, superfood, or diet that you are hearing about?