The Skinny on Healthy Fats
I definitely remember the “fat-free” trend of the 90’s. So many foods were modified to be fat-free and therefore helping you lose weight and be healthy. Thankfully we have now learned this craze was far from the truth and “good” fats have been shown to be healthy. Hello avocado toast!!!
All fats are not created equal! The fat from an avocado is definitely not the same as fat from fries. About 25% of our daily caloric intake should come from fats, more specifically healthy or “good” fats.
Healthy fats are an important part of our diet. Your body needs fat for energy, to protect your organs, keep you warm, support healthy cell growth, absorb nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, and produce vital hormones. Eating healthy fats help you feel full after a meal, can lower blood pressure, and fight against many diseases.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY FAT?
A “healthy fat” usually refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They have countless heart-health benefits that help reduce the risk of heart disease and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Research shows they can reduce inflammation and benefit insulin and blood sugar levels, decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another “healthy fat” is omega-3 fatty acids, found in walnuts, and chia seeds. These fats may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (1), cancer (2), protect against memory loss and dementia (3)and are essential for a healthy brain (4).
WHAT FATS SHOULD BE AVOIDED?
Easy: You should always avoid trans fats — also known as “partially hydrogenated oils.” Most are artificial and raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol They are the opposite of the good fats listed above and have been shown to increase your risk of developing heart disease and are associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Although saturated fats are generally to be avoided or consumed less, some saturated fats such as those found coconut oil are now thought to be heart healthy.
Foods That Are High in Healthy Fats:
Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, brazil nuts and hazelnuts are good sources of healthy fats with walnuts being one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. All you need is a simple handful a day. Choose raw, unsalted nuts or a couple tablespoons of nut butter. It is good to change up the variety of nuts as they have different vitamin and mineral profiles each with different benefits.
Try Sweet Crunchy Mixed Greens — a delicious salad topped with a mix of heart healthy nuts.
Chia and flax seeds are high in heart and brain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but you also benefit from omega-6 rich hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Sesame seeds contain healthy fats and are great source of calcium. You only need 1–2 tablespoons to get the benefits from these amazing seeds that are not only full of healthy fats but also clean protein, iron and fibre. Sprinkle some on your oatmeal, smoothie, salad, or avocado toast for an extra dose of good fats! Or make these delicious, simple Healthy Granola Bars.
Cold-pressed oils such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are rich in monounsaturated fats. Olive oil and avocado oils are great for cooking, others such as flaxseed and sesame are not meant to be heated and are great for making homemade dressings. Aim for 1–2 tablespoons of healthy oils daily. Try this simple Healthy Herb Vinaigrette.
Avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fat. Close to 80% of the calories in an avocado are from fat, the majority of which is oleic acid–the same heart-healthy fatty acid found in extra-virgin olive oil, shown to reduce inflammation and fight disease. Much like seeds, avocados also contain a great amount of fibre and antioxidants. 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado a day is all you need to get it’s healthy benefits. Avocado oil is also a great choice to cook with. Enjoy avocado mashed up on toast, cut into a salad, a spread for your sandwich or wrap or thrown into your smoothie to make it deliciously creamy — try a Super Wellness Smoothie!
Keep in mind that although these foods are full of healthy fats with amazing nutritional benefits they are still high in calories so stick with the recommended servings to get all the health you need while keeping your weight in check.
What is your favourite healthy fat? How do you love to eat it? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…