Slimming Down with Fat
This morning I posted a recipe for one of my all time favorite foods: nut butter. However, I’m quite aware that many people avoid nuts, seeds and butters because they are concerned about the high fat and calorie content. And truly, I can’t blame them. It’s a confusing world out there.
There’s no denying that along with the word, “fats,” comes myriad thoughts in regards to our diet and health. Take a walk down any aisle of the grocery store and you can find almost any processed food with a low-fat/ fat-free counterpart. However, even with all those low-fat options out there our waistlines are continuing to grow. While our weight is of course attributed to a number of factors, those low-fat diets and foods are actually not always a key ticket to staying slim. In fact, they often can work against us.
Fats are one of the most complex of the macronutrients in our diet. While all fat has equal calories per gram (9), once consumed and in our body, each fat is used and stored in a different capacity. From the exploration of how fat is used once in the body, many research studies have now linked fats to either good or bad health outcomes. For example, the primary type of fat delivered in our diet & processed in our body from eggs is different than that from salmon and the fat found in almond butter is not the same as the fat found in peanut butter. And none of these foods contain the same type of fat as that box of girl scout cookies your mom just sent you or the 3 french fries you snuck off your friends plate at dinner last night.
- Saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, cholesterol
- Shown to clog arteries, raise cholesterol and are associated with health conditions like cardiovascular disease and obesity.
- Found in: eggs, processed store bought foods (chips, cookies, cakes), butter…
- Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega-3 & 6.
- Proved to be health promoting and some even essential to our heath. Help control weight, manage moods & fight fatigue.
- Found in: nuts, natural nut butters, avocados, olive oil, flax, salmon
So, now that I’ve covered the basics of fat let me briefly explain the nut butters. More and more research is highlighting the health benefits of nut butters.
Almond v Peanut:
- Both nuts are a natural source of monounsaturated fats, a crucial nutrient for fighting off cardiovascular disease & Type 2 Diabetes. They also contain protein, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, calcium, potassium & antioxidants. Almonds, however, contain higher levels of all those micronutrients.
- Almond butter has 50% more monounsaturated fats than peanut butter and 25% less saturated fats (especially good news for people trying to watch their cholesterol)
- Almonds are an alkaline food while peanuts are acidic – according to some studies eating alkaline foods have positive health benefits as they keep our bodies pH levels in balance, allowing us to better absorb nutrients, increase our energy and reduce sickness.
- Processed peanut butter contains many ingredients besides the simple peanuts. Typically your jar will also include sugar, salt and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
- While hydrogenated oils deliver us that nice velvety texture they also encourage weight-gain, high cholesterol and heart disease. No thank you.
Never choose Reduced-fat
- The oil (fat) is the healthy part of the nut. Companies selling reduced-fat must replace the oil they take out to maintain texture, therefore while you’ve reduced your fat grams, you’re now eating a carbohydrate filler called maltodextrin – delivering empty carbs and sugar. A serious belly buster.
In future posts I will discuss the aforementioned fats. For now I’ll leave you with my own personal disclaimer: Each person digests fats differently. And, while health conditions have been associated with different fats, specifically ‘bad-fats,” I truly believe that all fats (except trans-fats – there’s no place in the diet for trans fats) are good in moderation.
What does that mean? Don’t skip your butter on your toast or the yolk in your egg. Add avocado to your sandwich and definitely put a good-sized scoop of nut butter on your apple. As with all foods, keep your fat portions in check and your body will thank you.