In a recent email to our patients, we promoted the benefits of fresh fruits as a healthy alternative for those who struggle with the national addiction to desserts, snacks and beverages that are made with added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
But I would go one step further and advocate that we fight the everyday craving to feed our sweet tooth and GO BIG on “the real sweet spot” for better health – fats! Good fats... and lots of them!
By “good" fats, I am talking about select fats from plants like avocados, olives, nuts and tropical oils, as well as unrefined animal fats, like fat from fish. All of these foods have a high proportion of monounsaturated fats or are high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Monounsaturated fats raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels, while lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids have the same effects, while also including a multitude of other terrific benefits.
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases and cancers
- Improves bone and joint health
- Fights depression and anxiety
- Improves eye and sleep health
- Reduces metabolic syndrome (a combination of conditions including obesity and high blood pressure)
- Fights chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases
- Improves skin health
- Boosts brain fitness
With regards to brain fitness, studies have shown the Omega-3 fatty acids have reduced the frequency of mood swings and relapses for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Other studies have linked Omega-3 fatty acids to fighting age-related mental decline and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s?[i]
One of the best attributes of monounsaturated fats is that they are very effective at suppressing one's appetite due to their low glycemic nature. Moreover, for people with type 2 diabetes these types of fats help improve one's sensitivity to insulin, which in turn helps to fight off the growing challenge of insulin resistance that is becoming ever more prevalent.
So "go nuts" and slice some avocados!
Every time you eat an apple or another piece of fruit, eat a handful of nuts with it. The best nuts are walnuts, which are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Almonds also have high levels of bioactive molecules that improve cardiovascular health.
Other tasty nuts that are loaded with monounsaturated fats are macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts. Peanut butter and other nut butters are great sources for "good" fats as well. Don't forget the seeds... snack on some sesame seeds or sunflower seeds.
Instead of chips, pretzels, crackers, cookies or candies, go for the seeds and nuts! If you must have crackers or chips at snack time, eat them with guacamole or even sliced avocados. These "good" fat foods curb your appetite and provide a healthy diet.
Every time you go to the store, always buy nuts. Always buy avocados or guacamole, and always buy "good" fat cooking oils – like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil or sesame oil. These oils go great with salads and “friendly” summer snacks like heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and kohlrabi. They are also great to cook with, especially with fish and other proteins!
Using butter in small amounts is not bad either. It’s a good fat that helps your cardiovascular and brain health.
Get fishy this summer!
Fish are among the healthiest foods anywhere and are the world’s best source of Omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like fish, there are some terrific fish oils you can take that contain the same benefits.
Optimize the power of "good" fats in everything you eat!
Nuts, olives and other “good” fat foods taste great and have low glycemic levels. They are also food for the brain! Always incorporate a fat or protein into anything that you eat when possible, as it suppresses appetite and balances out a proper diet.
Summer is your opportunity to focus on a healthier lifestyle while enjoying the season. Take advantage of the amazing tastes of summer and add "good" fats, as well as delicious fruits to your summer menu. Your body will thank you for it!