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The Power of Seeds and Healthful Fats Webinar
Jun 24

The Power of Seeds and Healthful Fats Webinar

By Maris Altieri RD, LMP Coordinator

Magnesium, ALA Omega-3s and protein are just a few of the nutrients seeds have to offer us. Learn about the health benefits of nuts and seeds and explore popular food myths about healthful fats in the webinar below. 

Class Materials: The Power of Seeds and Healthful Fats PowerPoint



Should I sprout my seeds to increase nutrient absorption?

Excellent question! Soaking and sprouting your seeds can help decrease phytic acid, making them more digestible. The more digestible a food is, the more nutrients are able to be absorbed and used by our body. Notable nutrients that are more bioavailable from sprouting are iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and folic acid. When sprouting your seeds, it’s important to be mindful of food safety. Bacteria, notably E-coli and Salmonella, love to grow in warm, moist environments. Check out this guide on how to sprout your seeds and grains in a safe way.

Is coconut oil really a healthy alternative to butter? How can I swap out coconut oil in a recipe?

Is all the hype of coconut oil deserved? Not quite. Coconut oil is made of 80-90% saturated fat, which gives it a hard texture at room temperature. One of the predominant saturated fatty acids present in coconut oil is lauric acid. Lauric acid has been shown to raise harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Unlike nuts and seed oils, coconut oil has minimal amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Many of the health claims regarding coconut oil refer to it being a medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs have a shorter fatty acid chain than other saturated fats, which quickens their rate of absorption. For this reason, it’s thought that MCTS are metabolized differently, which may reduce fat storage. However, most coconut oils on the supermarket shelf are not made of 100% medium-chain triglycerides. Coconut oil is composed of mostly lauric acid, which is not a MCT. 

Still not convinced? The American Heart Association issued a scientific advisory statement in 2017 to replace saturated fats (like coconut oil) with unsaturated fats. This statement was based on the review of 7 controlled trials which showed that coconut oil was found to raise LDL levels. For this reason, the AHA advises against the use of coconut oil. Those at risk for heart disease are advised to consume no more than 6% of total calories from saturated fat. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 12 grams of saturated fat, which is just about 6% of the standard 2,000 calorie diet. If you would like more information on coconut oil, this article discusses further research of this saturated fat.

As for healthful swaps, check out this helpful chart of what oil to choose at different cooking temperatures.

What are the specifications for low-fat and reduced-fat food?

"Reduced-fat" foods must have at least 25% less fat than regular versions of those foods. "Low-fat" foods must have 3 grams of fat or less per serving. Additionally, "fat-free" foods must have less than 0.5 gram of fat per serving and "light" foods must have either 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat. Remember, just because it's "low-fat" or "fat-free" doesn't mean it's automatically healthy. When food manufacturers reduce fat, they commonly replace it with carbohydrates from sugar or refined grains. Our bodies digest these refined carbohydrates very quickly, spiking blood sugar and insulin levels. Does this mean we should all eat high fat, low carbohydrate diets? Not exactly. Just like fat, carbohydrates are also essential macronutrients. Sources of whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and are important for endurance, muscle growth, brain function and more. The main takeaway I want you to have is that balance is key when it comes to our diets. We need fat, we need carbohydrates, and we need protein. Some of us may tolerate a diet higher in fat, some of us may tolerate a diet higher in carbohydrates. But in general, sticking to the Institute of Medicine's recommendations on macronutrient distributions is a great place to start.

What is your opinion on butter vs. margarine? 

Margarine is one of those controversial foods that many medical professionals have different opinions on, even dietitians! Margarine gives you this false sense that it’s a healthy food (thanks marketing), even though it is still a high calorie and highly processed food. In result, people end up consuming larger portions of margarine than they would butter, which adds a lot of unwanted calories and saturated fat to the diet, without the nutrients other fat options can offer. I’m pro-inclusivity when it comes to diets. I know the phrase is overused, but we say “everything in moderation” for a reason! In general, the more we ban certain foods from our diets, the more we crave them, which can lead to binging behavior. 

In my professional opinion, it’s better to use butter for special occasions and focus using fat sources that come from whole food sources (e.g. avocados, nuts, seeds) and monounsaturated/polyunsaturated oils (olive oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil). Our bodies thrive when we eat a varied diet, and using margarine as a primary fat source takes away from the nutrients and deliciousness different foods provide. Also, margarine has a scary long ingredient list, full of things I can’t even identify! Yikes! 


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