This week I’ve been revealing the findings from a new survey about what Americans eat and why and how consumers feel about their health. The last finding I’ll share has to do with the ‘f word’ – fat.
The survey found that while most consumers - 64 percent - are trying to consume less trans fats and saturated fats, Americans are less focused on fat overall when looking at the Nutrition Facts Panel.
I think this is a good and a not so good thing. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of fat – monounsaturated fat or MUFA is the cornerstone of the Flat Belly Diet eating plan I created when I was the nutrition director at Prevention magazine. For years I’ve been preaching that eating enough “good” fat can boost your health and whittle your waistline – for example, sautéing veggies in extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. BUT even “good” fats require portion control to keep you in balance.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 35% of the calories you eat per day should come from fat, as long as most are from healthy, plant-based foods. That’s about 60 grams a day for most of us, or roughly 15-20 grams per meal at four meals a day.
The best strategy for eating “good” fats without overdoing it is to include a little bit of one type at each meal – sprinkle a few Tbsp of nuts into your morning oatmeal, add a quarter cup of guacamole to your salad or sandwich at lunch, eat a simple snack made from grapes, a mini babybel of cheese and 10 kalamata olives, and whip up a stir fry for dinner using 1 Tbsp of oil. Ditching both butter and margarine is great, but getting enough (but not too much) of the right stuff is also key.
So what are your thoughts on fat? Do you avoid saturated and trans fats? Do you pay attention to the portion sizes of “good fat” foods? Please share your thoughts!
P.S. I took this picture of a stash of olives at a farm I visited near Florence, Italy earlier this year. They were as amazing as they look!