Fat has a bad reputation amongst a large population because many people believe that it will cause you to become overweight and contribute to diseases. Fatty foods were thought to be responsible for raising cholesterol levels, clogging arteries, and ultimately causing us to gain weight and become fat. Although this assumption makes sense and seems logical eliminating fatty foods from your diet will actually backfire on you. So, you can stop thinking that fat is bad because just like carbs and protein, fats are also an essential component to a healthy diet. Your body needs to consume fat to perform proper functions, such as absorbing fat soluble vitamins.
Here is a breakdown of all of the good fats:
Monounsaturated fatty acids - These can actually help lower your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and, consequently, can lower your risk of heart disease as well. These fatty acids are be found in plant based foots such as nuts, olive oil, canola oil, avocados, and poultry.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids - Similar to Monounsaturated fatty acids, studies have shown that the polyunsaturated fatty acids help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. The most commonly known form is the omega-3 fatty acid, which is found in fish and is rather on the expensive side. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon and mackerel and is also found in corn and soybean oils.
What you should be eating in moderation is the saturated fat, which is typically found in meat and dairy products ranging from cheese to butter and milk. This is thought to raise the “bad” cholesterol that can lead to clogged arteries and raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Here are some good fat foods you should include in your diet:
Avocados - They are considered a superfood and have approximately 23 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat. Avocados are also high in fiber content and antioxidants. On the surface level, eating avocados can also improve your skin condition.
Chia Seeds - These are becoming very popular among the health world. They are often not categorized as a “fatty” food however, one ounce of chia seeds contains fiber and 9 grams of healthy fat, the omega-3. Often, you can mix chia seeds in water and stir for about 30-60 seconds and you will notice it will turn into a gel-like consistency. This can also help prolong your feeling of fullness so that you do not over eat. Chia seeds, like everything else, should be consumed in moderation.
Nuts - They make for an incredibly convenient snack if you’re on the go or need a quick bite in between work meetings or college classes. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are all examples of high-fat plant based snacks that are plentiful in monounsaturated fats, omega-3, vitamin E and fiber. 1/4 cup of nuts per day will allow you to reap all of the heathy benefits. This can help you lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and can also help reduce the risk of blood clots which can lead to heart attacks.
Dark Chocolate - Believe it or not, dark chocolate is healthy for you! In moderation of course! Remember this does not apply to milk chocolate as there is too much sugar in them. However, one ounce of dark chocolate contains about 9 grams of fat. Although half of these grams are saturated fat (which are the less healthy type), it also contains some of the healthy fats which have numerous benefits. Dark chocolates that have at least 70 percent cocoa content have high levels of antioxidants. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can improve your brain function (it is recommended to eat some dark chocolate before taking an exam), and have also shown that it can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Ground Flaxseed - These are another superfood, similar to chia seeds,that you would not expect to have such potent health benefits. One cup of ground flaxseed has 48 grams of unsaturated healthy fat. The best part is that you only need 1-2 tablespoons to gain the benefits. Mix it in your breakfast yogurt, pancakes or cereal in the morning and you’re good to go! Flaxseed is filled with omega-3 and is a great substitute for people who do not eat fish. It also contains both insoluble and soluble fiber, which similar to chia seeds, can help you feel fuller longer and eat less.
Olive Oil - If you’re going to use any oil for cooking, then this is the kind you will want to use. Olive oil is much healthier than canola oil or vegetable oil and is said to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. It does, however, have high calorie content so it is important that you cook with it in moderation if you are trying to stay slim or loser some bounds.
You don’t have to eliminate bad fats from your diet, just make sure that most of your fat intake comes from the unsaturated version.