Did you know: there are more studies on the correlation of fat and cancer than on any other dietary risk factor? There is good evidence that fat increases your risk of developing cancer, especially cancer of the prostate, colon, breast, ovary, endometrium, and pancreas. But not all fats are the same.
Saturated fat, often found in animal products, have been shown to increase the risk for many types of cancers and should be kept at a minimum. But where do we find them and what can we do? Well, saturated fat is found naturally in many foods, mostly those from animal fat sources like meat and dairy. A good way to “see” the saturation is to look around and notice the fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter or fat on a steak. THOSE are saturated fats.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend saturated fat intake should be limited to less than 10% of calories per day and they should be replaced with unsaturated fats, while keeping total dietary fats within the age-appropriate range. And steer clear of any Trans Fats, as they are never healthy for the body.
A healthy substitute for saturated fat is unsaturated fat. These are usually liquid at room temperature, and often found in fish like this Glazed Salmon recipe and plant sources such as avocado, olives and nuts. So let’s talk about those fats now.
Although fats are the most concentrated source of calories, they are also essential in normal growth and development, even though when consumed in excess, they can cause weight gain. Fats in general can help your body to absorb and use vitamins and also help to maintain cell membranes important for all body systems to function properly. But when unsaturated fats replace saturated fats in the diet, cholesterol levels and total triglycerides can be reduced in the blood to reduce coronary plaque. Additionally, the unsaturated fats, such as Omega 3’s are beneficial because they can begin to form healthier cell membranes to keep the body stronger as a whole.
My all-time favorite source of unsaturated fat definitely has to be the amazing avocado! Considered a fruit, the avocado is known for its rich creamy, smooth flavor and is chocked full of incredible nutrition. They are one of the most nutrient-dense foods and boast impressive amounts of the heart-healthy monounsaturated (good) fat. ‘Cados, ounce for ounce, top the charts among all fruits in folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium content – an important nutrient for strong bones.
As a self-proclaimed avocado addict, I could eat avocado on just about anything and I have so many avocado recipes on my blog! Blended into smoothies, and soups like this creamy Cold Avocado Soup or chopped and tossed into salads and casseroles; the versatility of this fruit is incredible, but avocado pairs exceptionally well with Tex-Mex inspired recipes. This Taco Dip recipe from my KITCHEN 101 cookbook is no exception as this crowd favorite appetizer is meaty, hearty and can be whipped up in a moment’s notice. This Taco Dip is topped with – you guessed it – avocados – to add that savory something, smooth and creamy!
WAYS TO LOWER SATURATED FAT INTAKE:
- READ FOOD LABELS: Choose packaged foods lower in saturated fats, and check out the percentages based on a 2000 calorie diet.
- CHOOSE LOWER FAT DAIRY: Options include low-fat milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt, usually 1% or less.
- CHOOSE LEANER MEATS: Look for the words “loin” or “round” (such as ground sirloin) on the packaging label.
- THINK ABOUT PROCESSING: Eat skinless chicken or turkey breasts. A good example would be Chicken Cranberry Pecan Salad.
- CHOOSE PLANTS: Options like beans, lentils and tofu, are excellent options and alternatives to meat heavily saturated (pun intended) with saturated fat.
- PREPARATION IS KEY: Use oils higher in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (think Olive Oil oil, Canola Oil or sesame oil) instead of those solid, saturated fats (think coconut oil and butter).
Some other great sources of healthier unsaturated fats are peanut butter, avocado, raw nuts, fish (salmon, halibut, tuna), olive oil, and canola oil. Try the Taco Dip at home below, for some excellent unsaturated fats from the avocado. For a fruitier flavor that is similar to a melon, try the Florida Avocados! Enjoy!
Taco Dip from Holly Clegg’s KITCHEN 101 cookbook
Makes 16 (1/4-cup) servings
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
- 1 cup nonfat sour cream
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups salsa
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1/2 cup chopped avocado
- In large nonstick skillet, cook meat until done; drain excess grease. Add remaining ingredients except tomato and avocado, cooking until mixture is creamy and cheese is melted.
- Transfer mixture to serving dish. Top with chopped tomato and avocado. Serve warm.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories 95, Calories from Fat 36%, Fat 4g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 23mg, Sodium 286mg, Carbohydrates 7g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Total Sugars 2g, Protein 8g, Dietary Exchanges: 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1 lean meat