When people hear the word “fats,” they tend to run the other way. In truth though, fats are an incredibly important part of a nutritious and balanced diet. There are beneficial fats, and there are unhealthy fats. By avoiding the latter group, you can ensure that your body is receiving the best nutrition possible to flourish. Avoiding trans fats will help you stay fit and healthy. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the ones that you want to incorporate into your diet. They are the fats that are essential for helping your body run well. To feel better and look better, be sure to choose fats that are healthy and nutritious. Remember that selecting nutritious fats does not mean sacrificing taste!
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Types of Fats
To understand what fats to incorporate into your diet, it will help to know a little bit about fats in general. It is not a simple matter of good versus bad fat. There are several different types of fat found in food, and different types of fat have different properties.
Saturated and Trans Fats
You can thank saturated fats and trans fats for fat’s bad reputation. The jury is still out on saturated fats, but in general, because they have not been shown to be beneficial, it is best to limit them. When it comes to trans fat, though, there really is no question about it. Trans fats actually increase your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is what keeps your blood vessels running smoothly, so you definitely do not want to indulge in trans fats. They have been linked to high blood pressure and stroke, and there are much better fats out there.
Cholesterol in Food
Like fats in general, cholesterol in food is not well understood. According to the Heart Foundation, cholesterol in food is not actually the problem. Food has cholesterol, but that does not mean you should avoid those foods, necessarily. Rather, what causes an increase in your cholesterol is saturated fats and trans fats in your diet. So as long as you avoid foods that are high in those areas, your cholesterol won’t be negatively affected by foods.
Think of plant sterols as the opposite of saturated and trans fats. Instead of lowering your good cholesterol like saturated fats and trans fats do, plant sterols lower LDL cholesterol, which is also known as the bad cholesterol. In other words, plant sterols are really quite good for you and should not be avoided unless specifically instructed to do so by your health care provider.
Monounsaturated And Polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6) Fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good ones. These fats have been linked to lower blood pressure, decreasing the risk of stroke, delayed plaque build up in the arteries, and healthier cholesterol levels. These fats are found in foods such as avocados, fish, seeds, and nuts. They are best when consumed in moderation because they also tend to be very flavorful, but the key here is a balance. Fat is a great energy source when consumed by guidelines.
Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs)
Medium-chain fatty acids are found in certain types of saturated fats. Foods with MCFAs are said to be the best types of fats because they are metabolized most effectively and converted into energy efficiently. Coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and most dairy products are rich in medium-chain fatty acids. Few fats actually contain medium-chain fatty acids. As long as you stick to unsaturated fats in general and only add in saturated fats sparingly, your diet will remain well balanced and healthy!
Healthy Fat Foods
Now that you have a better understanding of what healthy fats look like, you are probably wondering which foods constitute a strong source of healthy fat. There are a variety of different food options that count as having healthy fat. There is definitely something for everyone when it comes to healthy fats. Furthermore, fats are such a versatile nutritional component that they can be found in breakfast foods, snacks, and food traditionally seen in dinner entrées. Below are some of my personal favorite nutritious fats that you can begin to gradually work into your diet, and make it more balanced.
If it seems like you see avocados on every single healthy food list ever, it is likely because you do. Avocados really are a superfood. When it comes to healthy fats, it is difficult to top what the avocado offers. In fact, a single avocado contains 29.5 milligrams of fat that is good for you. Avocados are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and are also a wonderful addition to salads or smoothies.
Nuts are such a versatile food group. They are a perfect snack on their own. They are an excellent addition to soups and stews. They are even wonderful when blended into smoothies. That’s our fantastic one-topping salads, and they are a great option for any time of day. They are, as you may have guessed, also an outstanding source of healthy fat.
Almonds are an excellent source of healthy fats. One serving size contains about 14 grams. Almonds are great when mixed into a homemade trail mix. They are also a delicious addition to a salad. Almonds make
Like almonds, cashews are another nut that is a great way to get your daily dose of good fat. With about 13 grams of fat per serving, cashews are tasty raw, salted, roasted and even after baked on a sheet pan. Grinding cashews into a soup is also another delicious way to incorporate fats into your diet.
Pine nuts are proof that nuts are a great source of good fats. A single cup of pine nuts packs a good 19 grams of fat into each serving. Pine nuts are great to top desserts, salads, and casseroles; they are also delicious when consumed alone.
Walnuts are an incredibly strong source of fats. An ounce of walnuts contains 17 grams of good fat. Walnuts leave you with energy and a great taste in your mouth. They are perfect in desserts as well as ground into bisques and sprinkled onto salads!
Who knew that your favorite ballpark snack was also a healthy one? Peanuts are great in just about everything. They are a staple in a good, hearty trail mix. They are excellent when churned into butter. Peanuts are fantastic when ground into sauces and are also fantastic when crumbled onto dishes such as Pad Thai. An ounce of peanuts contains 14 grams of good fat, so you can feel good about indulging in moderation!
Fish are one of the best forms of proteins that you can incorporate into your diet. They are lean proteins, meaning that the fat that is present tends to be healthier than fat found in other proteins such as red meat. Fish is an excellent source of healthy fat that is necessary for a balanced diet.
Half a fillet of salmon contains just shy of 14 grams of good fat. Salmon is excellent when cooked in just about any way. You can bread salmon with a healthy nut source to really increase your healthy fat intake. You can also grill salmon and serve it with a side of lemon and avocado. It is perfect for lunch or dinner any day of the week!
Sardines are an unexpectedly outstanding source of healthy fats. A can of sardines contains 10 grams of healthy fat and is also a wonderful source of protein and potassium. These little Fish are excellent for lunch when tossed in a refreshing salad and are also great when you want to splurge and eat a slice of pizza!
Tuna is a wonderful way to get your daily recommended intake of healthy fat. A can of tuna contains 5 grams of beneficial fat. That same can, also contains 41 grams of protein, making it an excellent choice for lunch or dinner. Tuna is great when worked into a salad, baked, or even eaten by itself!
Also known as flaxseed, a single tablespoon of linseeds contain 4 grams of healthy fat. They are great in trail mix and also as a topping for salads.
Chia seeds are known mostly as a fiber source, but these tiny little edible dots are also a great source of fat. A one-ounce serving of chia seeds packs in 9 grams of beneficial fats. These seeds are like none other in smoothies and are also an excellent way to add some texture to dishes without altering the taste.
Another baseball game staple, a cup of sunflower seeds brings home 24 grams of healthy fat. Sunflower seeds are perfect on their own. But if you want to mix them into something a little more hearty, you can add them to trail mix or use them in your favorite soup!
Who really needs a reason to eat dark chocolate? In addition to being rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate is also a great source of healthy fat. With 9 grams of healthy fat, this is one snack you can feel good about indulging in. Add it to your favorite dessert or enjoy it by itself. Dark chocolate is a versatile and relatively healthy treat when eaten in moderation.
Admittedly, I never liked olives as a kid. I thought they were the grapes older, for-grown-ups brother. As an adult, though, I know that olives are not only delicious but also a fantastic source of nutrition! A cup of sliced olives contains 12 grams of healthy fat. Make them into a Greek salad, enjoy them on their own or add them into one of your favorite recipes for a healthy meal.
When it comes to plant oils, you have a variety of options. Furthermore, plant oils tend to be rich in fats that are good for your body. Olive oil is definitely the gold standard for plant oils with a tablespoon offering 13 grams of healthy fat. Other plant oils that are a great source of fat include canola oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. Peanut oil is another great way to cook foods but should be used only by and for those who do not have a peanut allergy.
Nut Butters or Seed Spreads
Nut butter and seed spreads take foods that are high in fat, such as the peanut or the sunflower seed, and make them even more accessible. These kinds of butter and spreads tend to be rich in nutrients but also very rich in flavor. You will want to be mindful of the serving size to keep them as a healthy part of your balanced diet.
Fats really are not the food group villain, that they are made out to be. In healthy moderation, fats help your body receive the energy it needs to get through the day. As long as you remain mindful of what types of fats you are ingesting. You can work healthy fat into your daily diet without feeling bad. Your body needs it, after all!