helo.my: Cutting calories usually means blowing your wallet on healthier foods. You want a trimmer body, not a slimmer wallet. All those fresh salads, fruit juices and lean meats can add up to more than a McDonald’s meal or a visit to your favourite hawker centre.
The calorie count definitely matters, but even more important is where the calories come from. Most foods high in good fats are brimming with important nutrients that help create energy for the body, keep it warm, aid vitamin absorption and help produce its cells and hormones.
While low-calorie foods usually leave you still hungry, fuelling up on (good) fats will keep you fuller for longer as they take longer to digest, slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, and add flavour to food.
Aim to include 2 types of fats in your diet
1. Polyunsaturated fats come in two varieties: omega-6 and omega-3.
- Get omega-6 from safflower, corn, sunflower, and soybean oils; margarine and sunflower seeds. Aim for approximately 6g/day in a 2,000-calorie diet (roughly two tbsp. of margarine).
- Get omega-3 from fatty salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, tuna, tofu, herring and sardines. Omega-3 helps reduce inflammation; the risk of heart disease; lower triglyceride levels; reduce depression and the effects of arthritis; all while boosting memory and brain function.
2. Monounsaturated fat is an excellent plant-based source of fat, available in nuts, seeds, avocado, and most vegetable oils, including olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, flaxseed, grapeseed, and canola. Monounsaturated fat not only helps lower bad LDL cholesterol levels, it also increases your good HDL cholesterol levels.
Here are 5 easy and cheap ways to include these good fats in your diet:
1. Go nuts
Enjoy a handful of nuts as a snack, toss them in salads, or as healthy nut butter. Nuts are an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin E, fibre, and several minerals. Plus, they contain numerous phytochemicals that help prevent cancer and lower the risk of heart disease. One ounce or a 1/4 cup serving is enough (think 49 pistachios or 24 almonds), for approximately 160 calories, 6g of protein and 14g of unsaturated fat.
2. Learn to love olives
Skip creamy, bottled dressings and use virgin olive oil instead for a homemade heart-healthy dressing. Mix two parts oil with one part vinegar or mustard, black pepper and herbs.
Bonus tip: When you’re craving something salty, skip the chips and reach for a few olives instead.
3. Go dark
Good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) provides a high level of feel-good flavonoids, vitamins A, B, and E, along with calcium, iron, and potassium. It also contains theobromine, a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.
4. Get seedy
Chia seeds and flaxseed are tiny superfood packed full of omega-3 goodness.
- Toss 2 tsps. of chia seeds in smoothies, or soak them overnight in milk for a chia seed pudding breakfast.
- Blend flaxseeds into a smoothie, sprinkle them on yogurt or oatmeal, or stir ground flaxseed into pancake batter or muffin mix.
5. An egg a day keeps the hunger at bay
Although the cholesterol in egg yolks unnecessarily get a bad rep, whole eggs are low in saturated fat and higher in unsaturated fat. Have hard-boiled eggs as quick snacks, or start the day with scrambled eggs or add a poached egg to your salad. Protein and good fat doesn’t come any cheaper than this.