February is American Heart Month. Celebrate by challenging yourself to focus on using heart-healthy fats in cooking and eating!
Our bodies need fat to function properly. For instance, fat helps our body carry and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, fat insulates and protects internal organs and supplies essential fatty acids, which among other roles – help boost brain power!
And, adding a bit of fat at the plate, adds flavor and texture to foods and helps us feel full and satisfied at meals.
Just keep your fat “friendly” by reaching for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive and canola oils, nuts and nut butters, seed, avocados and “oily” fish (those varieties naturally high in omega 3 fats such as tuna and salmon) most often.
Eliminate “unfriendly” trans fats and minimize saturated fats. Saturated fats are primarily found in animal foods, such as butter, cheese, cream and other dairy products made from whole or 2% milk, fatty meats and poultry with skin.
Baked and fried foods often have high amounts of saturated fats as well as some plant foods, such as palm, palm kernel and coconut oils.
Try these tips for adding more heart-healthy fats to your cooking and eating:
Before roasting vegetables, drizzle them with a bit of olive oil instead of adding a pat of butter after cooking or top a baked potato with olive oil instead of the usual sour cream.
Experiment with canola oil instead of butter or margarine in baked goods such as quick breads, muffins and cakes. Look for recipes designed to make this substitution, too.
Skip the croutons on your salad and add a sprinkle of crunchy walnuts instead. Snack on pistachios in the shell in place of potato chips when a craving for a savory snack hits! Why nuts in the shell? It takes longer to eat nuts in the shell, so you will automatically slow your pace at the plate!
Introduce your taste buds to a different nut or seed butter, such as almond and sunflower butters. A recommended serving is one tablespoon. Try almond butter spread on a waffle or sunflower seed butter with sliced bananas on a sandwich!
Trade mayo on your sandwich for a bit of smashed avocado or top a steaming bowl of tomato soup with diced avocado. To make a simple guacamole, mashed a ripe avocado, then add juice from half a lime, one minced garlic clove then a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Then practice the mantra – “dip a veggie, dip another veggie, then a chip” to keep calorie down and veggie intake up!