Fats and oils provide essential fatty acids that your body requires but cannot manufacture on its own. You can obtain essential fatty acids naturally in foods such as fish and some nuts, but pure fats and oils help fill in the gaps.
Fats also enhance the flavor of other foods in many dishes. Choose olive, canola, peanut, walnut, flaxseed, and avocado oils rather than butter or stick margarine to emphasize healthier fats. See the section “The Skinny on Fat” in Chapter 4 to refresh your memory about different types of fats and their effects on your overall health.
For most people, it is also wise to consider small amounts of nuts and seeds (walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and many others) part of this group. Although they do provide some protein, most of the calories in nuts and seeds come from hearthealthy fats, so it’s best to use them to liven up other dishes rather than as a primary protein source.
Sweets and other “fun foods” can add pleasure and variety to your diet when used in moderation. To enjoy foods from this group without adding excess calories, try the following.