Eating healthy isn’t just about getting the right vitamins, minerals, and fiber; It’s also about eating the right types of fats. Unfortunately, the topic of healthy fats can be confusing as there are many different types of fats found in different foods that we eat in our daily diet.
We need certain amounts of these different fats for our bodies to function properly. The trick is to balance these so that we get more beneficial fats like omega-3s and fewer harmful fats like saturated fats.
What makes a fat healthy?
We need essential fatty acids in our diet because they are involved in several body processes, including aiding in the absorption of what are known as fat-soluble vitamins, which are vitamins A, D, and E.
Fats that are not used by the body for its numerous functions end up being stored as body fat. For this reason, it is advisable to limit fats in the diet and especially to consume those that promote health. But what makes certain fats healthy?
The main types of fat that we commonly eat in our daily diet are saturated and unsaturated fats. Most foods contain a mixture of both, but in varying amounts. Healthy fats are those that contain more unsaturated than saturated fatty acids.
Unsaturated fats join the list of fats considered healthy alongside monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, also known as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These are good fats because they have health-promoting effects on the body, like lowering harmful cholesterol levels and promoting heart health.
Many of these beneficial fats are consumed as oils such as olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats. However, canola oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-6 fats, as are most other vegetable oils.
Fish oils are considered the best source of omega-3 fatty acids and the most effective for promoting cardiovascular health.
What is considered unhealthy fat?
Unhealthy fats are those that are believed to do more harm than good in the human body. Fats like saturated and trans fats mainly found in animal products and dairy products. Saturated fats are also plentiful in cakes, cookies, and other desserts.
A diet high in these fats is believed to increase cholesterol levels, particularly bad cholesterol levels in the blood. This can cause fatty deposits to clog arteries, putting us at risk of heart disease and other serious health problems.
The US Food and Drug Administration is so concerned about the health risks associated with trans fats that it has banned manufacturers from adding them to foods and beverages.
7 of the best foods high in healthy fats
Olives and especially olive oil, are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which are found in foods mainly in the form of oleic acid. Olive oil is very versatile and can be used in cooking and as a salad dressing. A few spoonfuls of olive oil a day are enough to cover 100% of our daily requirement for monounsaturated fats.
Extra virgin olive oil is the best form and is high in vitamin E and other antioxidants.
Nuts are high in fat, but most contain large amounts of monounsaturated fats. Even nuts that contain large amounts of other fats, like Brazil nuts, are still considered healthy because they contain fiber and antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium.
Walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fats and contain the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. Some studies suggest that walnuts may lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. They also contain phosphorus, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin B6, copper and folic acid.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats; They also contain some polyunsaturated fats. Although primarily used in South American cuisine, avocados are still abundant in North American grocery stores. The Popularity of Avocados is due to its vitamin and mineral content. Vitamins C, E, K and a number of B vitamins are present here along with potassium, copper and magnesium.
Because of their high monounsaturated fat content, avocados are considered beneficial for heart health, and the healthy fats they contain have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
Fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, but not all fish are created equal; some contain far more of these fats than others. The best fish to eat to increase blood omega-3 fatty acids is oily fish like mackerel.
Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a positive effect on heart health. These fats can also help lower bad cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are also considered beneficial for brain development and function.
While fish such as mackerel provide the health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), plant-based foods such as flaxseed contain omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
Ripened flaxseeds, also known as flaxseeds, can be added to porridge, bread and other foods, while the oil can be taken in capsule form. Consuming the whole seed has additional benefits as it provides fiber and vitamins.
Eggs used to be considered unhealthy, but in moderation, they provide the body with nutrients such as potassium, selenium, calcium and protein. Eggs also contain both saturated and unsaturated fats. However, some eggs also contain omega-3 fats, but this is highly dependent on the diet of the hens laying them.
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are the edible seeds of a plant called Salvia Hispanica, which grows primarily in Mexico. These tiny seeds can be added to foods and smoothies, and are packed with nutrients like iron, zinc, and both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
5 benefits of healthy fats
1. Healthy fats help lower cholesterol levels
Eating a diet high in good fats like monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood cholesterol levels. Of course we need some saturated fats, but modern diets tend to have way too many of them.
Eating more saturated fat often leads to high cholesterol and elevated levels of LDL, also known as bad cholesterol. Eating more of other types of fat can help keep cholesterol levels under control and increase HDL (the good cholesterol) levels.
2. Healthy fats help keep your heart healthy
A healthy level of good cholesterol contributes to heart health because good fats prevent clogging of the arteries. Often referred to as plaques, these fatty deposits that contain calcium, cholesterol, and fat, harden and block blood flow to the heart. Good fats also reduce triglycerides; High levels can contribute to heart disease.
3. Healthy fats lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
A diet high in polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Including these fats in the diet can help lower blood sugar levels after each meal, which means the pancreas releases less insulin. This also lowers the risk of developing insulin resistance.
4. Healthy fats improve brain function
Healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, have been linked to improved brain function. These fats are also believed to lower the risk of developing dementia and even depression. Omega-3 fats are believed to increase blood flow to the brain. They also improve the binding of neurotransmitters and signaling pathways in the brain.
5. Healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties
Omega-3 fatty acids and some omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats. This means that the body cannot make them on its own and they must be obtained from food. These fats have a number of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. They do this by interfering with the body’s inflammatory process, which leads to diseases like arthritis.
frequently asked Questions
Is Saturated Fat Good For You?
We need some saturated fat in our bodies, and consuming too much saturated fat is just a health hazard. So there should be a balance of all fats in our diet.
What does fat do to your body?
Fat is used by the body to store energy. It also helps you absorb nutrients, produce certain hormones, and regulate normal cell function.