Fats always seem to get a bad rap, but actually, many can boost your health.
Study after study shows that by cutting back on animal protein and "saturated" fats (found in meat), eating more fruits and vegetables, and reaching for healthy "unsaturated" fats (found in plant-based foods like nuts and avocados), you can keep your ticker in top shape.
Good fats benefit your brain, too. To maximize your memory, eat a balanced diet that includes omega-3 fats from fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. These fats reduce inflammation in the brain, which may promote memory loss. Pumpkin seeds are another of the few plant foods to contain the brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. They're among my favorite snacks.
Other super fats include:
- Canola oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Macadamia nut oil
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame oil
- Walnut oil
- Salad dressings (low-fat)
- Nut butters
- Nuts and seeds, such as Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
Choosing plant-based, unsaturated fats over saturated fats can also help you control your weight. Years ago, I lost a significant amount of weight after switching to a diet of pasta, grains, salads, fruits, and lean protein—and minimal animal fats, sugar, and processed foods. After that change, I felt like a new person.
Every type of fat is a concentrated source of calories, so you don't want to go overboard. A good rule of thumb is to enjoy 2 tablespoons of super fats each day. Here's an easy, fun way to measure the right amount:
- One tablespoon oil (whether olive, canola, flaxseed, peanut, sesame, or walnut oil) is a checker—as in the size of a checkerboard checker.
- Two tablespoons of low-fat salad dressing, or light or soy mayonnaise, are a ping-pong ball, or two checkers.
- Two tablespoons of nuts or seeds are a ping-pong ball, or two checkers.
- One tablespoon of a nut or seed butter is a checker.