Thankfully, we’re past the days of low fat diets. With recent research and reexamination of old studies, most people know fat is important for health. It helps keep you full, aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and is needed for the synthesis of hormones. Just as important, fat makes food taste delicious!
Of course, some types of fat are healthier than others. As a dietitian, I no longer prescribe to the old rule of saturated fat is bad, unsaturated fat is good. There’s way too many exceptions to the rule. For example, coconut oil is a saturated fat but has a neutral, and possibly beneficial effect on cholesterol and heart health. Refined unsaturated fats have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease because they promote inflammation. Instead, I teach my clients that the most nutritious fats are ones that come from whole food sources – nuts and seeds and their oils, avocado, olive oil, grass-fed butter, and my personal favorite, fatty fish!
Fatty fish is important because it’s the best food source of omega 3 fatty acids, an essential fat your body can’t make, so you have to get it from your diet. Some of the benefits:
- Powerfully supports a healthy inflammatory response, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases linked to inflammation.
- Helps protect against symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Helps lower triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood.
- Raises “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- Linked to a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reduces pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
While small amounts of omega 3 fats are found in organic and grass-fed animal foods, as well as vegetarian foods, like flax, chia, hemp, beans, winter squash, green leafy vegetables, walnuts, and berries, fatty fish is by far the best source. Everyone is familiar with salmon, but try to experiment with other delicious fatty fish. Try sardines, mustard and cucumbers on whole grain crackers as a snack, anchovies mixed into a spicy tomato sauce for pasta, or pan-sear mackerel for an elegant but easy main.
If those are a little too adventurous for you, try trout, which tastes similar to salmon and can be prepared the exact same way. I love to grill mine over a cedar plank, which imparts a smoky, delicious flavor to the fish. Top it off with a dollop of slightly spicy Asian guacamole, which adds even more healthy fats!
Cedar Plank Trout with Asian Guacamole
- 2 cedar planks, soaked in water at least 2 hours
- 4 trout filets
- 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
For the guacamole:
- 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Set half the grill on medium-high heat.
- Drain the cedar planks and arrange the fish on top of the planks, skin side down. Brush with sesame oil and season with salt and black pepper. Place on the grill on the side opposite of the heat source. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
- While fish is cooking, make guacamole. Place all guacamole ingredients in a food processor and blend until pureed, scraping down sides as needed. Season with more salt if needed.
- Serve trout topped with a dollop of guacamole.