Eat the Good Fat First

Eat the Good Fat First

Choosing healthy-fat appetizers may help you eat less and lose weight.

If you're trying to watch your weight, you don't have to forgo appetizers altogether. In fact, choosing the right starter before your meal may actually help you eat less overall. So don't deprive yourself of that fresh whole-grain bread and olive oil the next time a waiter brings it to your table. It may be your diet's best friend.

There's some research that suggests that healthy unsaturated fats -- like the ones found in nuts, olive oil, avocados and some fish -- can help you to feel fuller, though not as well as protein and healthy carbs (think whole grains). 

And it doesn't take much: Just 70 calories worth will do the trick. That's about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, 6 walnuts, 10 almonds, 1/4 of a medium avocado, or 2 ounces of smoked salmon.

So ditch the chips, and instead try some of these delicious healthy-fat appetizers.

Spicy Almonds

Makes 2 cups
Serving size: 12 almonds
Calories per serving: 89

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dry-roasted, unsalted almonds
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until hot but not smoking, and then add the almonds and stir to combine.
2. Add the Worcestershire sauce, sugar, chili powder, and salt; stir until the almonds are evenly coated.
3. Remove from heat, and spread the almonds in an even layer on a baking sheet.
4. Sprinkle evenly with cayenne pepper and allow to cool.

Savory Olive Tapenade

Makes 10 servings
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Calories per serving: 74

1 teaspoon capers
3/4 cup green olives, pitted
3/4 cup black olives, pitted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Pepper, to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until the olives are finely chopped.
2. Serve with baked whole-wheat pita chips or thinly sliced and toasted whole-wheat bread.

Zesty Pesto Spread

Makes 14 servings
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Calories per serving: 70

1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Pepper, to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor until the mixture is finely chopped.
2. Then, with the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until it's all incorporated.
3. Spread onto whole-wheat crackers.

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At 9 calories per gram, fats can add up quickly in your diet, yet experts recommend that you get only 7% of your calorie intake from fat. Fats also affect your cholesterol, and there are both good and bad fats. The best kind of fa...

ts are called unsaturated fats, and can be found in oils like olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds. These fats can help your body get rid of cholesterol. Saturated fats often have had hydrogen added to them to make them more solid. Other saturated fats are found in cream, butter and meats. They can raise your blood cholesterol. Its wise to learn which is which and check nutrition labels to make proper choices.