You learn in Nutrition 101 that unsaturated fats are the “good” fats and saturated fats are “bad.” You’ve undoubtedly also learned that fruits, vegetables and grains (all low in saturated fat) are healthy, and that meat and dairy are relatively unhealthy because they contain high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.
That’s the conventional wisdom; however, recent research suggests that certain saturated fats may not be so bad after all, and may even have health benefits.
Grass-fed cows are significantly healthier than grain-fed cows, with lower bacteria counts and fewer infections. Healthier cattle produce healthier meat and dairy. Compared to regular beef, grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fats (the very good type of fat), making it arguably as healthy as white meat chicken.
Try It: Beef Fajitas
- Cut one of each of the following into small strips: red pepper, orange pepper, green pepper, Anaheim chili pepper, jalapeno pepper.
- Saute the peppers in grape seed or red palm oil with some salt.
- In a separate pan, brown a thin cut of grass-fed top sirloin (about two minutes on each side).
- Slice the steak (which should still be rare in the middle) and combine it with the vegetables, and cook through.
- Serve on corn tortillas with avocado and salsa.
It’s true that eggs are high in cholesterol and saturated fat. However, they do not deserve the bad rap they’ve picked up over the years. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and vitamins. Purchase “free range” eggs when you can.
Try It: Fajita Egg Scramble
- Start with your leftover beef fajitas. Heat them in a pan with a little oil and a handful of spinach.
- Saute for a few minutes, then crack in a few eggs.
- Scramble until the eggs are fully cooked.
- Serve with salsa and corn tortilla chips.
Coconut and palm oils are almost pure saturated fats, which in the past have been a “no-no” according to health experts (even as a non-animal source of fat). But given the lack of evicence that saturated fats cause high cholesterol, athletes can now enjoy the health benefits of these oils.
Coconut oil is a healthy replacement for butter or vegetable oil in cooking and a great addition to smoothies as a calorie booster for healthy weight gain. Palm fruit oil has a buttery flavor and a vibrant orange color (due to its high anti-oxidant content), and it is excellent for cooking. Both oils are heat stable, meaning they do not break chemically break down at high temperatures and produce potential carcinogens (as other vegetable oils may). Avoid “fractioned palm kernel oil” on ingredient lists, as this is a processed version of palm oil.
Try It: Coconut-Berry Power Smoothie
- Blend 1 cup of frozen mixed berries with 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 scoop protein powder, 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup tart cherry juice, and 1 cup fresh spinach or kale (loosely packed).
Try It: Palm Fruit Oil for Cooking and Baking
- Next time you pan fry a piece of fish, use 1 teaspoon of palm fruit oil. It works with fish or any other food without affecting the flavor. Also, try replacing shortening or lard in baking recipes with an equal amount of palm fruit oil.
Coffee makes a healthier replacement for energy drinks as a low-calorie, cheap and clean (contains no other additives or stimulants) source of caffeine. However, if you’re an NCAA athlete, caffeine, which is a stimulant, is considered a banned substance, so please moderate intake of caffeinated products.
Try It: Iced-Spiced Coffee
- Brew your own coffee and add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, a splash of organic whole milk (or unsweetened vanilla almond milk) and a few dashes of cinnamon. Pour over ice and enjoy immediately, or placed the chilled beverage in a thermos and take it to work or school if you need a mid-afternoon pick-up.