Fat was once considered bad for health, but as research has evolved we now know that all types of fat are not equal. Fat is an essential component of a healthy diet. It plays a role in brain health, helps build cell membranes, and allows the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins. However, some fats can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Studies show that monounsaturated fat reduces bad cholesterol (LDL), which helps to lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. There is also evidence that these fats can help control blood sugar. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, sesame oil, avocados, and peanut butter.
Polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) have been found to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. These fats are found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, tofu, and fatty fish like salmon and trout.
Health experts consider trans fat to be the worst type of dietary fat. Trans fats are byproducts of hydrogenation (turning a liquid fat into a solid) and are present in many processed foods. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower protective good cholesterol (HDL). As a result, the FDA has mandated that industrial trans fat be eliminated from foods by 2018.
A diet high in saturated fat can increase total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL), but some reports now question if the link between saturated fat and heart disease is as strong as once believed. As research continues, health experts remain cautious and recommend that saturated fat be limited to 10 percent of total daily calories. Saturated fat is found in red meat, whole dairy, coconut oil, and baked goods.
This recipe combines roasted vegetables with chickpeas and extra virgin olive oil to create a dip that provides protein, heart-healthy fat, and vitamins. Use it for dipping vegetables, as a spread for whole grain crackers, or as a filling for vegetarian sandwiches.
Yield: About 2 cups
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup cauliflower florets
½ cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 can (15.5 oz.) low-sodium chickpeas, drained
½ tsp fine ground sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp ground coriander
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the carrots, cauliflower, onion, and garlic cloves in a medium bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Roast the vegetables for 25 minutes. Stir one time about halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes.
Add the chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled vegetables, salt, black pepper, basil, and coriander. Puree on high for about 20 seconds, or until the mixture turns into a spreadable paste and all vegetables are finely chopped. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the olive oil. Puree for 30 to 45 more seconds, until the mixture becomes somewhat smooth. Remove from the food processor and serve.
Nutrition information for ¼ cup: Calories 104; Total Fat 5.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.8 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 209 mg; Carbohydrate 13 g; Fiber 4.0 g; Sugar 2.2 g; Protein 3.1 g
If there is one thing to invest in before starting your exercise program, make it your shoes. Quality athletic shoes that fit your feet well and that are designed for your activity can help reduce the risk of pain and injury. In addition to shoes, also consider your socks. Athletic socks that wick moisture are affordable, and they can help you ward off common issues such as blisters.
The number one priority of your exercise clothing is that it should be comfortable, but don’t confuse comfortable with loose and baggy. Big tee shirts and sweatpants may seem like a good choice, but they can get in the way of your workout. Most are also made of cotton, which traps heat and moisture causing you to overheat. Spandex is not a requirement, but more form fitting clothing that wicks moisture and allows you to move easily is ideal.
Fitness involves more than just your weight, so determine how you will measure your progress before you start your program. Waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure , and body fat are all components of fitness that you can track. Gather your initial data, and enter it into your MyFoodDiary account. Track your progress at regular intervals such as every month or every three months to make sure you are getting the results to meet your goals.
Your interval training, circuit workouts, and front planks will be simple to track with an inexpensive stopwatch.
Floor exercises like push-ups, crunches, and yoga poses are effective exercises. While they don’t require equipment, a mat will make them much more comfortable. Mats provide some cushioning for your back on hard floors, but you can also double up the layers to protect your knees during modified push-ups or use it as a bolster to sit on during yoga.
Hydration helps you perform better during exercise, so keep a water bottle handy throughout your workout. Select one that is easy to use while in motion, and consider an insulated version to keep your drink cool.
As seasons change, you may notice a change in your eating and exercise habits. While some of these changes are positive, others can have a negative impact on your choices and lead to unwanted weight gain.
Summer is a season of fresh, nutritious foods, but a few things may work against your healthy intentions. Backyard barbecues can tempt you with high-calorie burgers, hot dogs, chips, and ice cream. Local fairs and festivals offer deep fried foods and high-sugar desserts. It can be difficult to pass up these once-a-year treats.
Summer can also make it harder to stick to your workouts. Hot temperatures and humidity can leave you feeling lethargic and make it unsafe to exercise outside.
What to do: Be selective about the foods you eat. Choose only those that are true treats, and take the time to savor them. Make a plan for workouts at home or consider a temporary gym membership so you don’t abandon your workouts due to a hot day.
Autumn brings cooler temperatures that are ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Unfortunately, it is also a busy time of year for families. As you adjust to the back-to-school season, you may feel overwhelmed with little time to be active. The extra stress can lead to emotional eating, little exercise, and poor nutrition.
What to do: Find healthy ways to control stress and make those activities a priority. Even 10 minutes of meditation or yoga each morning can set the tone for a healthier day. Get outside when you can. Being in nature is calm and relaxing, which also reduces stress.
When winter hits, the cravings for high-carbohydrate comfort foods come with it. With fewer fresh foods available, you may fall into a rut with food choices and be tempted by unhealthy comfort foods. As the weeks move into the holiday season, temptations for unhealthy food grows and stress can increase emotional eating. Additionally, shorter days and cold temperatures make squeezing in your workouts more challenging.
What to do: Don’t let the holiday season sneak up on you. Make a plan and apply it as early as October. Choose when you will stick to healthy eating and what is worth a splurge. Plan for a busy schedule and how you will adjust your workouts. Find ways to make your favorite comfort foods healthier by incorporating more vegetables and fewer heavy creams and sauces.
As you transition out of a long winter, spring weather can be a motivating force to eat healthier and to get moving, but one thing could get you off track. After three months of sticking to your new year’s resolutions it may be tempting to give up, especially if you aren’t seeing the changes you expected. Heading into spring feeling discouraged may prevent you from taking advantage of outdoor workouts and seasonal fresh foods, and cause you to return to old habits.
What to do: Reevaluate your resolutions. Check your progress, and if you aren’t where you want to be, determine if your goals are on track. Perhaps you are expecting too many changes too soon or you are forcing yourself to do an activity you don’t enjoy. If your goals are no longer working, set new ones. Change up your routine to keep both your eating and exercise interesting and exciting.
Baked oatmeal makes a healthy breakfast that can be made early in the week and reheated on a busy morning. This version uses frozen blueberries for a sweet and hearty breakfast that isn’t loaded with sugar or saturated fat.
Yield: 6 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups skim milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
3 tbsp brown sugar or raw sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp fine ground sea salt
1 large egg white, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 4-cup casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Add the oats and milk to a medium bowl and stir well. Next, stir in the blueberries, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
Stir in the egg white. Continue to stir until it is fully incorporated into the oatmeal.
Pour the oatmeal into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are browned. Cut into 6 portions and serve warm.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 156; Total Fat 1.8 g; Saturated Fat 0.3 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 1 mg; Sodium 133 mg; Carbohydrate 27.9 g; Fiber 3.6 g; Sugar 10.7 g; Protein 6.2 g