Use it: It’s perfect for pan searing seafood or tofu or as a sesame or peanut oil alternative in stir frys. Look for virgin coconut oil, which is produced from fresh coconuts rather than dried. It’s considered the highest quality coconut oil and retains more of the flavor and aroma from this decadent fruit. Virgin also boasts more antioxidant capacity compared to refined, bleached and deodorized coconut oil, particularly phenolic compounds, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. “Just be sure to use any healthy fat in moderation to keep calories from getting out of control,” says Gerbstadt. That means no more than 1 tablespoon of any oil at a given meal, about 120 calories worth. Also, don’t switch to coconut oil exclusively. Overusing it can cause you miss out on the unique nutrients and antioxidants found in other options like olive, almond and flaxseed oils.
5 The Right Protein: Alaska Pollock This affordable, readily available white fish is similar in look and flavor to cod and haddock. In Japan, where Alaska pollock is commonly consumed as surimi (here, we call it imitation crabmeat), scientists studied the effects of various proteins on belly fat accumulation by feeding rats high-fat diets that contained either casein (milk protein), Alaska pollock, yellowfin tuna or chicken. Scientists don’t know why, but Alaska pollock was a more potent inhibitor of visceral fat accumulation than the other protein types, even without a reduction in total calories. Blood insulin levels, a marker for heart disease risk, were significantly lower, and the animals also had higher levels of adiponectin, a hormone produced by fat cells that’s linked to a reduced risk of obesity and breast cancer. More points in favor of this Pacific catch: It is not being overfished, and it’s low in mercury.
Use it: Crust pollock with a combo of ground almonds, whole grain bread crumbs and herbs and oven bake it, or use it as the base for fish stew, chowder or fish tacos. “Make it even safer by removing the skin, since that’s where contaminants, like PCBs, concentrate,” says Newgent. Since fish is so delicate, this culinary nutritionist advises only buying it from markets you trust, where the fish is properly chilled and kept on thick bed of fresh ice, preferably under a cover or in a case. When it’s fresh, fish shouldn’t smell fishy, the eyes should look clear and the flesh should be shiny, firm, and spring back when pressed. “You can even microwave it, which I call micro-roasting,” says Newgent. A 6-ounce fillet will take about 4-5 minutes on high, covered with parchment paper.
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