5 Tips for Choosing Healthy Fats

Here are a few tips to give those scary Trans Fats the boot and ensure a tasty meal or snack made with healthy fats.

1. Eat whole foods high in healthy fat such as avocados, nuts, seeds and oils. Toss some pistachios and dried cranberries into your salad or blend an avocado with yogurt and fresh mint for a refreshing soup. Have you ever tried making your own nut butter with sunflower seeds? I often create my own macadamia nut butter with a pinch of cinnamon.

2. Avoid dangerous trans fats. It goes far beyond the nutrition facts label -- be sure to check the ingredient list as trans fats are disguised in other names such as partially hydrogenated oil. Many products will claim 'no' trans fats but it's up to you to scan the ingredients to make sure you are keeping the hydrogenated oils on the store shelves and the good fats in your grocery cart. Trans fats are hidden in everything from crackers to salad dressings so be aware and keep them on your radar when you enter the food store.

3. Opt for fatty fish. Sardines, mackerel, sablefish, salmon and rainbow trout are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Bake a piece of fish in parchment paper with potatoes, fresh tarragon, lemons and olive oil for a perfect dinner. When dining out, select a piece of grilled fish along with a side of avocado and salsa. You can also create a healthy whole grain bagel and fish with organic cream cheese such as Organic Valley atop a hearty bagel, red onions, capers and fish such as salmon or sardines. Many of my clients enjoy making a sardine salad instead of tuna salad; they combine sardines with a canola-based mayonnaise, celery, walnuts and fresh parsley then stuff it into a whole grain pita for an easy lunch.

4. Figure out what Fat-Free and Low-Fat products are worth it. We all know it's a good idea to cut back on saturated fat intake but that means we have to create flavor from other sources to make our food taste good. No problem! That's the easy part. With a variety of fresh fruits, herbs and spices -- your taste buds are in for a party without the saturated fat and believe me -- they won't know the difference. Try low-fat Greek plain yogurt mixed with fresh dill and lemon zest for a creamy sauce or whip up fat-free ricotta cheese mixed with ground cashews, sea salt and freshly ground white pepper in a food processor for a creamy topping that gives you a nice dose of lean protein without the full fat of ricotta. How about trying a reduced-fat cheese such as cabot cheese and melting it atop a whole grain English muffin with a poached egg and sliced tomato for a breakfast option? In this case, you are getting the full fat from the egg and less fat from the cheese to balance out your meal. If you are watching your cholesterol, try combining egg whites with avocado so that you are receiving your healthy fats from avocado and not having to worry about the fat or cholesterol in the egg. In all of these cases, you can easily create a flavorful meal and snack by combining a low-fat option (such as Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, hard cheeses) along with a portion of a healthy full fat option (such as nuts, seeds, oils, dark chocolate, avocado) and still get amazing flavor in each bite.

5. Splurge on top quality products such as extra virgin olive oil or special flavored oils. A little of these oils goes a long way atop roasted vegetables, salads, baked sweet potato fries and soups. Try making your own salad dressing by whisking extra virgin olive oil with freshly chopped rosemary, sea salt, lavender and crushed red pepper. This is an inexpensive option that you can drizzle atop a vast array of dishes without having to worry about the additives and trans fats from a store-bought processed salad dressing. I enjoy using flax oils for my clients salads and soups; you can purchase flax oil at Whole Foods Market or health food stores; Barlean's makes a great product called Forty Flax, which is ground flax seeds and is perfect atop oatmeal, smoothies, salads and stir-fries.