Sunday, March 3, 2013

Eating to Live: Avocados, Coconut and Flaxseed

It has been nearly a year since I last reported on my never-ending food journey. With science, being what it is today, there are many reports of eat this, not that; only to find, years later, you should eat that, not this! What’s a person to do? I, for one, am trying to eat as healthy as I can on a regular basis while still enjoying those things that are not actually considered healthy on a not so regular basis⎯white chocolate chip, macadamia nut cookies anyone?

Without going into an exhaustive explanation about saturated and unsaturated fats, and the average American diet consisting of an overabundance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids, and that this imbalance contributes to inflammation in our bodies, you just might be interested in the following: 

I have always loved avocados, but considered them to be a high caloric food, so imagine my surprise when I found they had gotten a bad rap. Yes, high in calories, but mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and avocados are considered a nutrient-dense food! Knowing this, I eat avocados on a regular basis now, and because I only ate them occasionally in the past, I have some catching up to do.

I’ve heard about the wonders of coconut oil for many years, but once again was looking at its high caloric content and stayed away from it. It wasn’t until the last few years, when coconut products seemed to be popping up everywhere, that I started to investigate coconut oil more thoroughly. Let’s just suffice it to say, I am successfully using coconut oil, when baking, in place of butter or shortening in recipes. While it is still a saturated fat like butter and shortening, it has a low Omega-6 content, and antioxidant properties that help fight inflammation. Does this mean I should be eating more Mounds bars?

Note: Coconut oil is a solid with the consistency of a firm vegetable shortening. We have been taught, over the years, that all fat solids are considered saturated and therefore bad for us. Science may be proving that some saturated fats are actually good for us, as may be the case with coconut.

When I tried a gluten free diet a few years ago, I came to know and love ground flaxseed. I sprinkle it on many foods and eat it by the spoonful. Since I do not eat a lot of fish and am probably low on my Omega-3’s, eating ground flaxseed not only adds more fiber to my diet, but also adds the necessary Omega-3’s. The flavor is surprisingly nutty and you will find it is a great fiber addition to smoothies along with the noted coconut oil and avocado above.

I rather enjoy this never-ending food journey of mine. It helps me explore foods and improves on a healthy approach to living. This in turn helps to move me forward in a positive direction. But, don’t be so shocked the next time you see me eating a basket of fish and chips, something I love. I just make sure I don’t enjoy this basket of goodness often. Also, it has to be the very best, not just any old basket of fish and chips. Oh, and the best⎯panko breaded.
Laughing photo courtesy of nosha.