Factor In the Good Fat

While you’re cutting back on “bad” fats, you’ll want to add more of the “good” fats. And so the Plan will steer you toward fish (nch in omega-3 fatty acids). olive oil, and sterol-based margarine—the kinds of fat that actually help to improve your cholesterol levels.

Fall in Love with Olive Oil

Talk about a great job, Chris Ortiz Temnitzer, president of, spends most of the year in Europe, touring the olive groves in the countrysides of France, Italy, Spain, and Greece in search of the ideal olive oils for import to the United States. He conducts about 200 tastings a year, swirling the fragrant oil in a small, blue glass, sniffing, swallowing, and rating. You can bet his cholesterol levels are low,

The generous amount of olive oil consumed by people who live in Mediterranean countries forms the core of the so-called Mediterranean diet, one high in vegetables, fruits, and grains, but also fat—about 40 percent of total calories. People who follow this diet have much lower levels of heart disease than those following the typical)Western diet. And the bene fits come quickly. One study higher levels of antioxidants in theirblood. Numerous other studies conducted over the past 40 years attest to the oil’s heart benefits, including studies finding that olive oil not only lowers LDL but also raises HDL. An added benefit: Studies suggest that olive oil may slow stomach contractions, helping vou feel full longer And when olive oil was offered for the greatest cholesterol-lowering benefits ard the most antioxidants. (Choose cold-pressed extra virgin for even more.) higher levels of antioxidants in their blood. Numerous other studies conducted over the past 40 years attest lowers LDL but also raises HDL. An added benefit: Studies suggest that olive oil may slow stomach contractions, helping vou feel full longer And when olive oil was offered for bread-dipping in place of butter, people who dipped consumed 52 fewer calories than those who spread the butter.

Don’t let this classic oil intimidate you, Here’s what you need to know,

Buy the best. Not all olive oils are created equal. A better oi! will add better flavor to your food. The main types of olive oil are:

Extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes on integrating described as “cold pressed” or olives into your “first press,” extra virgin olive oil daily diet, go to has the lowest acidity of all olive, oils and meets the highest taste and aroma standards. It also has the greatest cholesterol-lowering benefits ard the most antioxidants. (Choose cold-pressed extra virgin for even more.)

Olive oil. Sometimes described as “pure,” this is a blend of refined olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. Refining removes color, taste, and some of the nutrients

Light olive oil. No, it doesn’t have fewer calories. It’s just refined oil mixed with just enough extra virgin oil to give it a light flavor and color

Keep it fresh. Look for the date of extraction or use-by date on the label. Unlike wine, olive oil is best used soon after its pressing. All oils oxidize over time and eventually become rancid. Leave a bottle of old oil open in the sur for a week or so and then smell it. You’ll never forget the scent of rancid oil. So keep your olive oil ina dark, cool cupboard in dark glass or tin; heat and igh! are olive oil’s enemies. Stored properly, olive oi! will last for years. If the oil turns cloudy, its nutritional properties may have changed; it’s time to throw it away ana Quy 6 New bottle

Use it on everything, Don’t relegate olive oil to the back of the cabinet. From breakfast through dessert, it works with nearly everything.

  • Drizzle it on your morning toast or bagel, or dip hunks of bread into it instead of spreading on butter or margarine.
  • Use it to make garlic bread. Brush extra virgin olive oil on both halves of a split loaf of Italian or French bread, sprinkle the bread with chopped garlic, and then breil until lightly browned.
  • Baste turkey and chicken with extra virgin olive oil for extra flavor.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil to replace smoked meats and sausages typically used to flavor bean and pea soups.
  • Sauté nuts in a little extra virgin olive oil for added flavor.
  • For a tasty dessert, sauté bananas, apples, pears, or other fruits in light olive oil. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and serve.
  • Use the conversion chart below to make the switch from butter and margarine.

At the same time you’re making that switch to olive oil in place of other fats, be careful not Lo go overboard on your overall fat or calorie limits. Too often we’re more  likely to add rather than substitute.

Hold a tasting. Like wine tastings, olive oil tastings are a wonderful way to find a brand you really like, for there are nearly as many varieties of olive oil as there are of wine. When Temnitzer conducts tastings, it’s a highly stylized ritual complete with covered blue glasses (so he’s not influenced by the color of the oil and can swirl the oil to release its aroma and warm it), wool cloths (for breathing into to cleanse the nasal “palate”), and apples (for cleansing the other palate). You don’t have to be so precise. Although you car find olive oil tasting kits online (www.oliveoilsource.conv taster_case htm, www italiancookingandliving.conystore/olive_oils, or www.oakville grocery.convhtml/gifts-ultimate_olive_oil_tasting_box.html), you can do it with a regular glass and, of course, several bottles of quality olive oil. Here’s how:

  • Start with three or four oils and decant them into small containers. Pour about 2 tablespoons into a small glass. Number the oils or place them on paper mats with numbered circles so that you can easily keep track of them.
  • Warm the glass by cupping it and swirling it slightly. Then take a brief sniff to get a first impression, followed by a deeper smell.
  • Take in a teaspoonful of the oil, roll it around your mouth, and suck air in through clenched teeth.
  • Swallow and wait. You should get. the oil’s aftertaste in a few seconds.
  • Make notes throughout the tasting.
  • You’re looking for a fruitiness, a “green grass” or “leafy” smell, and also some bitterness. In olive oil, bitterness is good. Ideally, you should get a balanced sensation of fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency, which tells you it’s a good oil.
  • Among the positive words used to describe olive oil: apple, almond, artichoke, astringent (a puckering sensation), banana, bitter, buttery, fresh, fruity, grass, green, green leaf, harmonious, hay, melon, perfumy, musky, nutty, woody, peppery, pungent, and rotund. Avoid oils that taste briny, burnt, coarse, musty, earthy, flat, or winey.
  • In the end, says Temnitzer, what’s most important is that you like the oil.

The “Other” Olive Oil

Although we talk a lot about olive oil in this chapter, don’t think you have to use it exclusively. After all, there are instances—for example, when baking—where olive oil won’t The best choice in those cases is canola oil. It’s the lowest in saturated fat, with a favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and although it doesn’t get nearly as much publicity, it’s just as good as olive oil when it comes to lowering your cholesterol.

It’s also cheaper than olive oi! and has very little flavor, making it more versatile.

Keep a bottle in your cupboard for any recipe that calls for vegetable oil.

Use a “Magic” Margarine

Margarine isn’t exactly good for your arteries—unless it’s a special kind of margarine that can actually lower your cholesterol. In 1999 the FDA approved the addition of natural plant chemicals called sterols to margarine. Because sterols have a similar chemical structure to cholesterol, they compete with cholesterol for receptors that facilitate absorption by the body, and they usually win. Studies find that 2 to 3 grams a day of a margarine such as Benecol and Take Control can reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels 9 to 20 percent. If these margarines were widely incorporated into our diets, experts say they could slash the incidence of heart disease by one-third. 

One potentially negative side effect is that sterols may reduce your body’s ability to  be absorb certain nutrients from food, specifically  beta-carotene and vitamin E. But a daily multi vitamin, as recommended on the Plan, should resolve that problem. Also keep Tuna, in mind that sterols, even in margarine, are  medicine. Don’t use more than the recom canned  mended amount, about three servings (they’re Sturgeon, packaged in individual servings) a day.

Embrace Omega-3s  You read earlier about omega-3 fatty acids, which lower your risk of heart disease mainlyby lowering triglycerides and countering Trout, inflammation, You can find these fats in avariety of sources, including spinach, musaA, Ears ne tard greens, wheat germ, walnuts, flaxseed EDEN a (and flaxseed oil), soybean and canola oil, Shark rare: a and even Pep seeds, But the very Base best source is a soall fish is created equal, however. At left is a handy chart to help you choose fish with the highest omega-3 content.

Go Nuts for Nuts  Back in the old days (say, about five years  ago), no nutritionist worth her calorie  The Mealth EMecis of counter would recommend adding nuts to Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Seafoods your diet, High in fat and calories, nuts were a definite no-no. Not anymore. Seems there’s barely a nut out there whose health benefits aren’t being touted these days. That’s because while nuts are relatively high in fat, they’re high in unsaturated fats, including omega-3s, and also high in fiber. In recent years numerous studies have linked eating nuts to better heart health and improved cholesterol levels.

In August 2002 a study published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, found that when 27 people with high cholesterol ate one or two handfuls of almonds daily for a month, they reduced their LDL levels between 4.4 and 9.4 percent. Another study found that two handfuls of pecans a day for four weeks lowered LDL by 10 percent. And when il comes to walnuts, researchers found that eating 1.6 ounces a day for six weeks lowered LDL and total cholesterol, and also decreased dangerous low-density LDL 27 percent Some nuts may be better for lowering your cholesterol than others. Thus far the best evidence of heart-health promoting properties has been generated for walnuts, followed by almonds.

What about the calories? Yes, nuts are calorie-dense. (See the chart on the next page to find out just how many calories different nuts contain.) But studies show that people who eat nuts actually tend to be thinner than those who don’t, perhaps because nuts are so filling that eating them helps you eat less of other foods. Bul don’t go overboard. Aim for 1 to 2 ounces of nuts (1 ounce is about 7 shelled walnuts) as a daily average, and try to eat them instead of other sources of calories, rather than as an addition.

Be creative when it comes to nuts. For instance:

  • Sprinkle them on salads.
  • Toast them to bring oul their full flavor.
  • Chop them and sprinkle them on cereal or mix them into muffin batter.
  • Grind them and use as a coating for cooking salmon

Try the Peanut Butter Solution

There is more fat in a peanut butter sandwich than in a McDonald’s cheeseburger; there are about 21 to 27 grams per 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, But peanut butter is no dietary evil. Most of its fat is monounsaturated, and it also provides a good source of protein, vitamin E, and fiber. So don’t pass on this childhood treat, (And don’t think you’re saving calories if you go for the low-fat version; the fat is just replaced with sugar.) Just make sure peanut butter is replacing other forms of fat and calories, not adding to them. You can also try other nut butters, like almond, cashew, and maca damia. They usually have a lower percentage of saturated fat than peanut butter.

To enjoy peanut butter wisely, follow these tips:

Take a lick. Take a teaspoon of peanut butter and slowly lick it off the spoon as if it were a lollipop while you watch TV or relax.

Spread it thinly. Use it in place of cream cheese on bagels or butter on toast.

Go natural. To avoid the added salt and sugar in commercial peanut butters, as well as the hydrogenated oils most contain, visit a health food store that lets you make your own, or buy a “natural” brand. Because they contain no hydrogenated oils, these brands will separate, so you’ll need to stir them before eating

Dip in. Peanut butter makes a good dip for apples, celery, carrots, or other fruits and vegetables. Again, limit the portion or you could find yourself eating an entire week’s worth of fat calones in one sitting

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