The web for all its glory and grandeur can be a very confusing place especially in the arena of diet advice. Today, to help lessen some of that Internet confusion, I want to talk fat with you as well as share my new favorite salad recipe.
Let’s start with general consensus out there that the percentage of calories we need in our daily intake from fat is 20-35% (some doctors and nutritionists who advocate a low-fat, plant-based diet even take that figure down to 10-15%). In addition, the general consensus out there is that we shouldn’t consume more than 10% of our calories a day from saturated fat, to help prevent cardiovascular disease and perhaps Type 2 diabetes.
To start breaking this down for you, I am going to examine the fat make-up of several foods and base my nutrition percentages on a 2,000-calorie diet, since that’s what our labels use. You would lesson or increase that figure depending on whether you wanted to lose weight or if you were more active.
First, let’s look at the fat make-up of several plant-based foods in no particular order. (I used caloriecount.about.com and the nutrition labels of the items I had on hand for these numbers.)
|Food||Total Fat||Saturated Fat|
|24 Almonds (1 oz.)||22%||5%|
|1 TBSP Safflower Oil||22%||5%|
|½ Medium Avocado||20%||12%|
|12 Large Pitted Olives||12%||0%|
|1 TBSP Ground Flaxseed||3.5%||1.5%|
|1 TBSP Peanut Butter, Natural||12.5%||8%|
|Trader Joe’s High Protein Super Firm Organic Tofu (84g/1 Serving)||11%||5%|
|Butler Soy Curls (3/4 cup/1 Serving)||7%||0%|
It’s easy to see that the saturated fats in this category of foods is significantly less than the total fat. Also, nuts, oil, and avocados are higher in fat, and probably should be eaten in smaller portions than I’ve listed above in order to prevent weight gain. And as much as many of us love peanut butter, it’s probably best to eat in teaspoon portions rather than tablespoon ones.
Next, let’s look up the fat make-up of several animal-based foods that are low in fat. (I used caloriecount.about.com for these numbers.)
|Food||Total Fat||Saturated Fat|
|Egg (Cooked, Hard-Boiled)||7%||8%|
|Chicken Leg (Meat Only, No Skin)||4%||3%|
|½ Chicken Breast (Meat Only, No Skin)||5%||0%|
|4 oz. Lean Ground Turkey (93% Lean)||12%||12%|
|3 oz. Lean Hamburger (85% Lean)||20%||25%|
|1 oz. 2% Milk Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese||8%||15%|
|½ Fillet Salmon Atlantic, Wild||19%||10%|
|3 oz. Beef, Top Sirloin (Trimmed to ¼” Fat)||8%||10%|
In general, this category of food has a higher saturated fat ratio than the plant-based category (white chicken breast and salmon the exceptions in this list), and that’s even when eating these foods in very small portions. While this family of foods may not be high in total fat, their saturated fat make-up along with the realization that in general portion sizes of these foods are rarely as small as listed above, you can see why limiting this source of food may be beneficial to your health.
To sum it up, at least for me, I have cut out of my diet most animal-based foods due to their saturated fat and cholesterol content. This choice has significantly lowered my cholesterol for the good.
In addition, I follow a lower-fat diet, only because I think I generally eat too much fat if I don’t watch it. With that said, I also believe I should eat good fats from plant-based sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados and so on. I think limiting vegetable oil intake is a must for me, as well, since I can reach the low end of my daily caloric intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet in one tablespoon of oil.
So, while it may not be 100% accurate to say we need to eat a strictly low-fat diet, it’s probably best if we eat a lower-fat diet than most of us currently do, since fat calories add up quickly.
If that speaks to you and you want to start eating less fat, here’s a great recipe I’ve incorporated into my diet recently that helps with that goal.
(Please understand I’m not a nutritionist and do realize everybody has different nutritional needs. Also, higher fat diets are good for those who are very active, so I would definitely encourage you to do your own research based on your own genetics and lifestyle.)
1½ cup of Butler Soy Curls*, reconstituted in warm water per package directions
¼ cup of BBQ Sauce
1 cup of sweet corn, defrosted if frozen
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
3 cups of salad greens
1 32-oz. mason jar
*You can buy these online at www.butlerfoods.com
In a medium pan, pour BBQ sauce over the soy curls, mix together and cook them over medium heat until lightly browned and pan-fried. Set aside to cool.
Layer the corn, cherry tomatoes, BBQ soy curls, and salad greens compactly (but not too compactly) in a 32-ounce mason jar, and place in refrigerator until ready to eat. (Probably should eat in a day or two.)
When ready to eat, pour salad fixings in a large bowl, dig in, and enjoy!
I find this salad tastes fine without a dressing, but feel free to add a dressing of your choice to it (keeping in mind the recommended fat calorie intake if you don’t use a fat-free dressing). If you are packing a mason jar, place the dressing at the very bottom.