Healthy Dinner Recipe

If you're like me you are often looking for a quick and healthy dinner recipe, but you are concerned about the amount of fat in some choices. However, fats are essential to the proper functioning of our bodies. Among other things, fats help maintain cell membrane integrity and they help nerve transmission and nutrient absorption.

However, if consumed in excess quantities, fats can lead to weight gain, heart disease and various types of cancer. Be aware that not all fats are alike. Some fats contribute to our well-being and some can be quite harmful, increasing the risk of developing heart disease.

So your (quick) healthy dinner recipe should contain a certain amount of fat. But how much fat do we need exactly? The Zone, a popular diet, suggests that the calories we consume should come from carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the following proportion: 40%, 30% and 30%, respectively. We don't necessarily have to drastically follow this advice; it should only serve as a general reference. The key is to replace the bad fats in our meals with good ones.

Here is a quick review of the different types of fat.

* Saturated Fats

Saturated fats cause an increase of blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, which are the bad cholesterol. Products that have high saturated fat content include meat, eggs, dairy products and seafood. A few plant foods, like coconut oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil also contain high amounts of saturated fats.

* Trans Fats

Trans fatty acids are the result of the industrial process of "hydrogenating" liquid oils. This process was devised in an attempt to make food products last longer. Trans fats are commonly found in packaged foods, in commercially fried food (e.g., French fries), in packaged snacks (e.g., microwaveable popcorn), and in hard stick margarine and vegetable shortening.

* Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are the good fats because they cause blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol to decrease, and at the same time, increase HDL cholesterol or the good cholesterol. Products that contain high levels of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil and nuts. Look for these ingredients in any healthy dinner recipe, like salad dressing made with olive oil.

* Polyunsaturated Fats

Similar to monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats help lower total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. High levels of polyunsaturated fats are found in safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, fish oil, and seafood like salmon. The Omega-3 fatty acids fall under this type of fats.

Some Things You Can Do to Avoid the Bad Fats

* Use only cooking oils that have low amounts of saturated fats and high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil, flax seed oil and canola oil).

* Stay away from commercially packaged foods since they have high trans fat content.

* Read food labels and go with those that are trans fat free.

* Avoid saturated fats by opting for low-fat versions of dairy products (e.g., skim milk).

* Go for lean meats. Make sure the visible fats and the skins are removed.

Following this advice will help make sure you benefit the most from a nutritious, healthy dinner recipe.

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