A balanced diet includes healthy fats. For a long time the USDA advised us to limit all fats, under the mistaken assumption that eating fats would make us fat. So, we all switched to low-fat and non-fat foods that were both unappetizing and unsatiating. They were also less healthy, since the fat was replaced by sugar and artificial ingredients, and more expensive.
A Balanced Diet Does Not Shun All Fats
We now know that a balanced diet is not one that totally avoids all fats. The research shows that not all fats are created equal. Choosing fats is more nuanced.
Here’s some sound advice from the Mayo Clinic:
A Balanced Diet Avoids Harmful Dietary Fat
Eating a balanced diet means avoiding these types of fats. There are two main types of potentially harmful dietary fat:
• Saturated fat.
This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
• Trans fat.
This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or that contain trans fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they’re typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, butter, shortening and stick margarine.
Eating a Balanced Diets Means Eating Healthier Dietary Fat
A balanced diet includes healthy fats. The types of potentially helpful dietary fat are mostly unsaturated:
• Monounsaturated fatty acids.
This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that these fatty acids may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
• Polyunsaturated fatty acids.
This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. These fatty acids may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
• Omega-3 fatty acids.
One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3, found in some types of fatty fish, appears to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it hasn’t yet been determined whether replacements for fish oil — plant-based or krill — have the same health effects as omega-3 fatty acid from fish.
Eat Avocados for a Balanced Diet
Avocados provide heathy fat. They are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Most of the calories in an avocado come from fat. One avocado has about 320 calories. That’s why guacamole is typically so high in calories. This recipe replaces some of the avocado with edamame and cuts way down on the calorie count.
Try this recipe, which is made with avocado and edamame. You will find it to be both creamy and fresh. Serve it with raw vegetables like celery, carrots and radishes for dipping or alongside baked pita chips as a healthy snack or appetizer.
Recipe for Edamame Guacamole (makes 2 cups)
• 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
• 1 small ripe avocado
• 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
• 1/3 bunch fresh cilantro
• 1/4 white onion, roughly chopped
• Juice of 2 limes
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Put edamame, avocado, chipotle, cilantro, onion and lime juice in a food processor.
2. Pulse until almost smooth.
3. Add enough water (about 2 tablespoons) to make a creamy consistency and pulse again.
4. Transfer guacamole to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Nutrition: (per 2 Tsps. Serving)
Fiber: 2 g
Click here to get the full recipe to add to a balanced diet.