Contributed by Margaret Ruth Olson
Trying to wiggle into your skinny jeans? Drinking a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in your morning coffee may be the trick. Despite its bad reputation for packing on the pounds, oil (the good kind), if consumed properly, can help lower cholesterol, fight inflammation, protect the nervous system and brain, and yes, help with weight loss!
So what are the “good kinds” of fat?
Fats are ranked “good” or “bad” depending on how they affect your total and LDL cholesterol. The key to fat consumption is to look for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, the higher in omega-3 & 9 the better, and to steer clear of trans fats or saturated fats. When consumed in moderation, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats help to lower the bad kinds of cholesterol and promote overall health. In addition,consuming healthy oils promotes healthy skin, proper eyesight and strong brain development, and lubricates joints.
What oils have the good kind of fat?
How much is too much?
It’s best to include two servings (or two teaspoons) of oil in your diet everyday. Like everything in your diet, quality, and quantity, count. Make sure that the fats you eat are good, and that you aren’t consuming more than a serving at a time. Monitor exercise and calorie consumption, but also be aware that a diet too low in fat can be as bad as one with too much. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that we get 20% to 35% of our calories from fat, but anything more than 35% can become harmful.
Experimenting with new oils
If you want to stick to a low calorie, healthy diet, here are some healthy snacks that I love that are easy to sneak oil into:
1. Coffee: You wouldn’t believe it, but not only does olive oil disappear in your morning cup of Joe, it also ups the caffeine boost. When preparing your coffee, pore a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil into the grounds before starting up your machine. The coffee will be smooth and may keep you going longer than you expected. Not at home in the morning? A teaspoon of EVOO directly into your cup of Starbucks will do the same trick.
2. Popcorn: I like to take a serving of air-popped popcorn and drizzle it with a teaspoon of flaxseed oil. The flaxseed oil gives it a nutty taste and makes it delicious and greasy like theatre popcorn without all the calories!
3. Homemade Tortilla Chips: I like to buy homemade corn tortillas at the market and make my own chips. Take a stack of tortillas and cut them with scissors into fourths. Spread them out on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil. (5 sprays of Pam Olive Oil Cooking spray is a serving). A little salt up on top, and pop them into a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Take out, flip, spray, repeat. Twenty minutes later you have the perfect dippers for salsa or hummus.
4. Black Bean and Corn Salsa: Chop up a jalapeno and an onion and stir together with a tablespoon of your favorite oil. (Try salmon oil or almond oil for this recipe!). Let sit for about twenty minutes. Add a can of drained black beans and a can of drained yellow sweet corn. Stir. Finish with fresh cilantro. Great in tacos, tortilla chips, or on its own! Yields about a half cup per serving.
Margaret Ruth Olson is not your average 21 year old. A single chick, restricted to a wheat-free diet and a much tighter budget, she takes every opportunity to make life fabulous. An expert in fashion, fitness, and food, she has experience buying clothes for local boutiques in her home town Austin and working up close with nationally recognized magazine, Texas Monthly. A career in magazine writing on the horizon, she knows her way around the kitchen as well as she knows her way around a jam-packed closet. She prides herself on her ability to find good gluten free food in the most obscure of places, pulling off a thigh-high stiletto boot with any outfit, and of course, somehow managing to fit Bikram yoga and a short run into the hottest, busiest day in Texas.