In my last blog post I talked about why fats are important for us, and then dove in to polyunsaturated fats and the difference between Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. Ultimately, the important piece is to understand that fat is essential to a healthy diet (after decades of the common conventional wisdom telling us to avoid all fat, this can be a big hurdle); but then we must understand that some fats are healthy and some are really not healthy at all. I do not think that it is important to understand the chemical make up of fat, but this provides an easy avenue to discuss fats, and the distinction may help some individuals internalize the healthy vs. unhealthy fats to make the best choices down the road.
My topic today is ultimately a simpler one. Monounsaturated fatty acids are all healthy fats and they should be consumed daily. These are the fats that have been shown to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, to improve insulin sensitivity, and to lower blood pressure.
Monounsaturated fats can be found in olives and olive oil, avocados, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, nuts, halibut, sablefish, mackerel, and some vegetables.
Thus, a handful of nuts makes a great snack (I recommend raw nuts because while nuts are good for you, roasted and salted are easier to overeat. Many companies also roast nuts in unhealthy vegetable oils that you should try to avoid). And olive oil makes for a great homemade salad dressing. One of my favorite recipes is simply one part olive oil, one part vinegar (balsamic, red wine vinegar, and rice vinegar are all good choices), a tsp or more of dijon mustard, depending on the amount of oil and vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir, add salad ingredients, and toss!!