Many adults, especially baby boomers, have been brainwashed into thinking fats equal calories and should be avoided. But the body needs fat to function. (After all, 60 percent of the brain is fat.) Not all fat is alike, and not all fat calories — researchers increasingly believe — are alike either. “Some fats seem to bind with receptors in the nucleus of the cell and cause the body to metabolize them better,” Reardon says.
Healthy fats include many nuts, seeds, avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, and canola oil. “Eating nuts and avocados doesn’t make you fat — but not eating them might,” Reardon says. Unlike calories from saturated (bad) fats, healthy fat calories are essential to the body’s metabolism. They keep you performing well, and they satisfy hunger better.
How? Use extra-virgin olive oil and canola for much of your cooking. Don’t be shy about adding a small amount of olive oil, with flavored vinegar, to a salad if it makes it taste better, so you want to eat more salad. (Bonus: Less sodium and sugar than processed bottled dressings.) Mash avocado and spread it on your sandwich in place of mayonnaise. Snack on raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and walnuts — four kinds of nuts and seeds with great lipid-lowering ability — or add them as toppings or ingredients to cereal, vegetable dishes, or foods.
Flax is a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants and fiber, and it’s been shown to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. Because whole flaxseed tends to be less well used by the body, grinding the seeds before use provides more benefit.