Not ALL fat is bad for you! Read that again…
Like with most foods, some are absolutely better than others, but in a healthy, balanced diet healthy fats are truly such an important component. But what are healthy fats? And what are some of our favourites to incorporate into our day-to-day meals? Keep reading to find out more!
What exactly are healthy fats?
‘Good’ healthy fats are types of fats found in foods that are unsaturated, providing your body with plenty of positive health benefits. Some of these crucial benefits include assisting your body in absorbing essential vitamins, providing anti-inflammatory health properties and working to protect your brain and heart health. In particular, you should include foods that are made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Even though the more ‘bad’ fats found in our favourite goodies like chocolate and pastries are definitely not a complete no, ultimately the goal is to choose ‘good’ fats over the not so nutritious ‘bad’ fats.
One of the most commonly known and talked about polyunsaturated fats is omega-3. Omega-3 has a huge list of health benefits including the prevention of arthritis, joint pain and antiinflammatory skin conditions, the prevention of memory loss, dementia, reducing the symptoms of depression and bipolar as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Impressive!
Trans fats and saturated fats found in foods are generally quite a bit more damaging for your health (and waistline). Several naturally occurring products such as meat and dairy do often contain smaller levels of trans fats, but it is the artificial trans fats found in foods such as pastries, packaged snack foods and fried foods that you don’t want to consume high levels in order to protect your cholesterol levels and overall health. On top of the trans fat levels, the added high amounts of unnatural sugars and refined carbs can also lead to health problems when consumed too often.
Saturated fats, whilst not quite as harmful as artificial trans fats can still be problematic. Saturated fats are suggested to be consumed at a lower level as your heart health can be compromised, raising negative LDL cholesterol. Saturated fats can be found in whole-fat dairy products, red meat, chicken skin, butter and tropical oils such as coconut oil. Limiting these products to 10% of your daily calories is recommended.
It should be made aware that healthy fats are generally higher in their caloric content, so be cautious of your volume. For example, 100g of avocado is 138 calories and 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil is approximately 121 calories. Including these foods in your diet is a very easy and healthy way to boost your calories on a non-fast day!
What are some of the best healthy fats to include in your diet?
Below are 6 of our favourite foods filled with healthy fats to boost your body’s health and wellness. Added bonus… healthy fats also help to keep you fuller for longer.
Chia Seeds and Linseeds
Both chia seeds and linseeds are extremely high in their percentage of fat per 100g, with chia seeds being 30% and linseeds 42%! The benefits to heart health and the subsequent prevention of heart disease are some of the most well-known benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, which is extremely prevalent in these seeds. On top of this high level of fatty goodness, the levels of additional fibre, protein, calcium, zinc and phosphorous are considerate also.
Similar to the seeds above, the levels of fat found in these easy and delicious snacks are quite high, averaging about 50-60% fat depending on the type of nut. They are all healthy and all different in fat content and health benefits, similar to asking ‘which vegetable is the healthiest?’ Getting a wide variety into your diet is key! The nuts highest in monounsaturated fats are almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and pistachios.
One of the worlds favourite healthy fat-filled foods is avocado, right? Avocado is of course famous for its ‘avo smash’ on toast. Did you know that for every 100g of avo, 13% is fat, with the majority of this fat being monounsaturated? Avocado is a wonderful alternative to mayonnaise or butter, both high in trans fats, which as mentioned above aren’t as full of the health benefits when compared to unsaturated fats.
Oily fish contains some of the highest levels of healthy fats out of all protein sources, with salmon, for example, containing 17% fat per 100g. Other types include herring, mackerel, trout and sardines. Enjoy them in a salad, poke bowl, stir fry or as a fillet with a delicious fresh salad for lunch or dinner!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the easiest ways to up your healthy fat content without feeling like you are consuming too much food. We recommend this type of oil as the best to cook with for its great health contents. Extra virgin is the best type of olive oil due to its natural excretion process and its high levels of vitamins, on top of the fat.
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