Picture a T-bone steak and a fresh salmon fillet sizzling side-by-side on the grill at a cookout.
Both items are layered in fat. But there’s a difference: Too much of the T-bone fat will spike your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease, while the salmon fat will improve your health and protect against heart disease.
Yes, there’s such a thing as “good” fat and “bad” fat. Soldiers need to eat good fats to improve energy and limit hunger pangs. But sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between good and bad fats.
Find good fats in nuts and seafood
Good fats are typically found in plant-based foods, such as nuts and olive oil, as well as salmon, tuna, and other seafood. The fats in these foods are critical to long-term health and controlling quick-fix cravings. Good fats:
Are essential to building muscle tissue
Promote weight loss by satisfying your hunger and boosting your energy
Help fight Type 2 diabetes and heart disease
In addition, fish and walnuts contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps ease inflammation and clear your arteries of fats related to heart disease.
Eating nuts, olive oil and avocados also helps reduce your risk for heart disease and other conditions. These foods contain cancer-fighting chemicals, and they help you lose weight by keeping you full longer — all good reasons to give fat a chance.
Good fat choices
Not all fat is created equal. Eat these foods to lower cholesterol and boost energy.
Tuna and salmon
Avoiding bad fat sources
Bad fats are a different story.
Candy bars, donuts and French fries are called junk food for a reason — they are packed with trans fats, a bad fat that drives up your cholesterol and makes you pack on pounds.
The other major bad fat offender is animal fat. Fatty meats, sausages, and hot dogs are full of saturated fat, which raises your cholesterol, clogs your arteries and expands your waistline.
For an occasional steak night, choose small portions of lean cuts like sirloin tip and top round. And when you crave a snack, steer clear of junk food and opt for nuts or sunflower seeds.
For clues about fat at the grocery store, check out the nutrition labels on packaged foods. Nutrition labels list total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
Pass on items with more than 16 grams of saturated fat. Items high in saturated fats include red meat, chicken with skin, cheeses and creams.
Ditch anything with more than two grams of trans fat. Common trans fat culprits include spreads (e.g., butter), toppings (e.g., salad dressing), fried foods, sweets, and salty snacks such as chips and crackers.
Limit total fat to 78 grams or less per day if you’re eating 2,000 calories a day, which is equal to about 10 servings of salmon or just one fast food meal with a double cheeseburger and fries.
Quick Fix: Five Ways to Eat Healthy
Use olive oil or avocado in place of butter when cooking
Opt for vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressing
Buy skim or one percent milk instead of whole milk
Eat white meat chicken or turkey instead of red meat
Switch to frozen yogurt or reduced-fat ice cream instead of regular ice cream
The Real Warriors Campaign offers nutrition tips designed especially for Soldiers to support good health and mission readiness.
For more information about the Real Warriors Campaign or other resources, visit the Guard Your Health website at www.guardyourhealth.com.