The Hungry Swimmer: Here’s the Deal with Fats

by Zoe Gregorace 2

October 21st, 2019 Lifestyle

Contrary to popular belief, fat is good for you! Much like we discussed in a prior edition about there being different types of carbohydrates, there are also different types of fats that provide different health impacts.

Saturated fats are found in most animal products like meats, full-fat dairy and coconut oil. This fat can affect our blood cholesterol levels and be harmful to our cardiovascular health. Unsaturated fats are the good fats. Within this category, there are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Foods that contain monounsaturated fats can be found, for example, in a Mediterranean diet and include olive oil, avocados and nuts. MUFAs for short, this type of fatty acid reduces LDL cholesterol in the blood, the bad type of cholesterol that can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. PUFA sources such as vegetable oils, nuts and oily fish like salmon or mackerel, can raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and reduce triglycerides (fat) in the blood. Swapping out some saturated fats in your diet with MUFAs or PUFAs supports a heart healthy diet!

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy fats (the good kind)!

Avocado Toast

Ingredients

  • 1-2 slices of Food for Life bread
  • ½ avocado
  • Squeeze of Lime
  • Sprinkle of smoked paprika
  • Sprinkle of TJ’s Anything But the Bagel Sesame seasoning

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve never heard of avocado toast. We millenials love to joke about how expensive this delicacy is if you order it in a cafe however, it’s super simple and easy to make. There’s no excuse to go out and spend $14! All you need is bread, an avocado and a toaster. I typically use half an avocado for two slices of bread. My favorite bread is the Food For Life 7 Sprouted Grains bread. Once toasted, cut your avocado in half long-ways and twist to reveal the gorgeous green flesh and ridiculously huge pit. Scoop out the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) with a spoon and divide as evenly as you can between the two slices of bread. Take a fork and generously mash the avocado so its flat. And there you go, avocado toast! This is totally optional, but highly recommended, you can season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon or lime. I also like experimenting with smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and Trader Joe’s famous Everything but the Bagel Sesame seasoning.

Oatmeal topped with Almond Butter

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup of water or almond milk
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp almond butter

I am obsessed with almond butter. So creamy and delicious and makes the best oatmeal topper! For this recipe, combine the oats and liquid of your choice in a bowl and microwave for about 1 minute. Remove, add the cinnamon and chia seeds and microwave again for another :45. The oats should soak up the liquid and be nice and thick. If it is still watery, continue to microwave in :30 increments until the desired texture is achieved. Let the bowl cool and drizzle the almond butter over top. This oatmeal recipe is super simple and nutritious. Also, you can use whatever nut butter you wish! Other amazing options are natural peanut butter, cashew butter or sunflower butter. Choose nut butters that are labeled as natural and only contain nuts as the main ingredient. Some more processed nut butters will contain added salt, sugar and palm oil so be wary!

Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients

  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup liquid (I used vanilla unsweetened almond milk)
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Sprinkle of shredded coconut
  • Handful of cacao nibs

Chia pudding is such a unique snack. It has an incredible texture and is a great way to experiment with chia seeds. Chia seeds contain heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and protein. For this recipe, you will need to soak the chia seeds in liquid, I used almond milk. After mixing in the cinnamon, almond extract (you can substitute for vanilla extract) and honey, I recommend placing this mixture in a glass jar or bowl and soaking the seeds overnight in the fridge. Chia seeds are rather bland so adding spices like cinnamon are a great way to flavor the pudding. I’m using honey for this recipe because it is a natural sugar alternative and adds the perfect touch of sweetness. One teaspoon of honey contains about 6 grams of sugar. For toppings, I love adding fresh sliced berries, shredded coconut (make sure you use coconut without added sugar) and cacao nibs for a nice crunch.

Simple Salmon with roasted veggies and Greek orzo salad

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. wild caught salmon
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cucumber
  • Kale
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Banza Chickpea Rice

If you’re learning how to cook, fish may seem extremely intimidating. But have no fear, it is surprisingly easy to prepare! All you have to do is preheat the oven to 400F and place the fish skin down on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes. You may also use aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray however, the fish is more likely to stick using this method. Keep it simple and season with pepper, lemon juice and olive oil (another beneficial fat source). I also like experimenting with different spices like smoked paprika, za’atar, turmeric, curry powder. When getting salmon at the grocery store, you can go to the fresh seafood section and ask for wild caught salmon, if available. I prefer wild caught because it is leaner and contains more nutrients compared to farmed raised salmon. As for portions, you can ask for 4-6 oz. fillets, since this is the typical serving of fish that you will find in restaurants. Ordering your fish in this way will make preparation much easier because you won’t have to cut it yourself from a massive slab of fish. For this meal, I served the salmon with some roasted zucchini and eggplant. You can roast the vegetables and bake the salmon at the same time. I roast 1 entire zucchini and eggplant at a time so I can have some vegetables on hand for other meals. Once the veggies are sliced, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil and roast for about 25-30 minutes. I also made a Greek salad ahead of time. What is great about this recipe is that you can make a batch of it at the beginning of the week and save it in a tupperware in the fridge. If you don’t have Banza Chickpea rice, you can use whole wheat or plant-based pasta, brown rice or quinoa. Once the grains are cooked (I’ll make the entire package for one batch of salad), place in the fridge to cool and dice up the tomato and cucumber. Place kale in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, pepper and garlic powder and massage it in. I rarely measure my greens so add as much as you want! To massage the kale, just use your bare hands (that you’ve washed) and squeeze the oil into the leaves as if you are playing with clay. Take the cooled rice and break it up with a fork if you found that it clumped up in the fridge. Add in the kale, diced tomato and cucumber and sprinkle in some feta cheese (also not measured).

Check out my page for more recipe inspiration and be sure to share your heart healthy creations with me @whatzoeeeats.

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Jorge Roman

Hello, these recipes look great, but the information here is very misleading. Please look at Dr. Peter Attia’s research on saturated fats and cholesterol, and why consuming them actually does not directly contribute to risk of heart disease. Here is one article explaining why: https://peterattiamd.com/how-did-we-come-to-believe-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol-are-bad-for-us/ . Another researcher named Dr. Stephen Phinney is a pioneer in high fat diets and has been able to reverse type 2 diabetes through a high fat diet. Here is the corresponding article: https://blog.virtahealth.com/the-sad-saga-of-saturated-fat/ . There are many more researchers which come to the same conclusion but these two are a good starting point!

Zoe Gregorace

I really appreciate this feedback! I understand that saturated fat is a controversial topic however, for the purpose of this article, I was more interested in sharing recipes featuring sources of unsaturated fats & omega fatty acids. Although there are several studies suggesting that saturated fat intake is not associated with CHD, I personally feel that there needs to be more scientific evidence on the topic in order to make a substantial claim.

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