Diet-tips

Healthy Fats – What Are They, Foods To Eat And Avoid, And Benefits


Healthy Fats – What Are They, Foods To Eat And Avoid, And Benefits October 23, 2018

Consuming healthy fats is extremely important for better health. Healthy fats like poly and monounsaturated fats help lower risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and improve heart health (1). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and WHO recommend a total energy intake of 30% from fats and limiting the consumption of saturated fats (less than 10%) and trans fats (less than 1%) (2), (3). So, it is clear that fats are not bad, and you will not gain weight as long as you do not exceed the limit. This article talks about what healthy fats are and 15 whole food sources of healthy fats to improve your health, skin, and hair. Take a look.

What Are Healthy Fats?

Healthy fats are mainly categorized as unsaturated fats. They can have either single (monounsaturated) or multiple (polyunsaturated) double bonds in their chemical structure. These fats are liquid at room temperature and become solid or soft-waxy when chilled.

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol, protect from heart disease and stroke, fight certain cancers, and maintain cell structure (4), (5).

On the other hand, saturated fats are fats that have no double bond in their chemical structure and are only healthy in the required amounts. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (6).

Trans fats are dangerous fats that are found in abundance in the modern-day diet. Trans fats are required in meager amounts by the human body, but they pose serious health risks when consumed regularly in large quantities (7). Here’s a list of trans fats foods that you must avoid.

Main Idea: Healthy fats are good for your health. Saturated and trans fats are also required, but you must not exceed the recommended limit.

Now that you have a better understanding of healthy fats and not-so-healthy fats, let’s get to listing out the healthy fat food sources. Swipe up!

1. Avocados

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The nutty and buttery avocados are a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are high in calories, and about 77% of the fruit is fat. They are also rich in potassium, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. The nutritional profile makes them an excellent source of healthy fats that help improve cardiovascular health, lower the risk of weight gain, and promote healthy aging (8). Consuming avocados may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome (9), (10).

Consume avocados in salads, smoothies, on toasts, as guacamole, or just as it is to help include a dose of healthy fats in your diet while curbing your hunger and improving your health.

2. Whole Eggs

Whole eggs (eggs with yolk) are a great source of water-soluble (B vitamins) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, and K) (11). We know that egg whites are a great source of protein, but the yolk contains vitamins and minerals that may help to strengthen the bones, reduce oxidative stress, help manage hypertension, fight certain types of cancer, aid brain development, and prevent hyperpigmentation (12), (13).

Consume 3 whole eggs per week by adding them to salads, curries, sandwiches, baked foods, boiled, poached, or fried.

NOTE: Avoid consuming egg yolk if your cholesterol level is high, and your doctor doesn’t approve of it.

3. Fatty Fish

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Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, hilsa, silver carp, trout, sardines, and herring are loaded with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (14). It is important to consume omega-3 fatty acids as the diet we follow has an imbalanced ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. Ideally, the ratio should be 1:1, but overconsumption of unhealthy foods has shot the ratio to 15:1 – 16.7:1 (15). Fatty fish omega-3 aids healthy aging, protects from heart disease and stroke, helps in weight loss, reduces cancer risk, and improves brain function (16), (17).

Consume 3 oz fish once in two days or as per your doctor’s recommendation. It is best to consume wild-caught fish. Add it to curries, salads, and sandwiches.

4. Nuts

Nuts like macadamia, pistachio, walnut, almonds, and pine nuts are energy-dense, packed with vitamins and minerals, and are great sources of unsaturated fatty acids. Consuming nuts can help reduce oxidative stress, hypertension, and inflammation, help manage weight, reduce belly fat, and fight cancer (18), (19).

Consume a handful of nuts that are in-shell if you are trying to lose weight. Consume a handful of nuts as a snack or add them to smoothies, salads, dips, and breakfast bowls.

5. Cheese

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If you have been avoiding cheese thinking that it will make you fat, let me tell you, it won’t. Cheese is calorie-dense and a good source of calcium, prebiotics, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and peptides (20). Yes, overconsumption of cheese may have an adverse effect on your health, but in recommended amounts, cheese can help strengthen your bones and reduce hypertension.

Consume different types of cheese in soups, salads, and dips to keep your hunger in control and get your daily dose of healthy fats.

6. Seeds

Seeds like chia seeds, sunflower seeds, melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds are loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, protein, vitamin A, and various minerals (21). Chia seeds and sesame seeds have cholesterol-lowering properties (22), (23).

Consume a handful of mixed seeds in your salad, salad dressings, sandwiches, breakfast bowl, and smoothies. Avoid consuming any of the seeds mentioned if you are allergic to it.

7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Extra virgin olive oil is an important component of the Mediterranean diet, and it is now being used extensively all over the world due to its immense health benefits. Touted as one of the healthiest oils, olive oil is a great source of healthy fats and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and heart disease (24).

Prepare salad dressings with olive oil or make it your go-to oil for cooking.

8. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) and has gained popularity as a healthy oil. It is widely used as a cooking oil and is an essential ingredient in bulletproof coffee (25). MCT has been found to aid weight loss by allowing ketone body formation (when you limit the consumption of carbs) and helping to burn the fat (26). However, there are risks with coconut oil consumption. So, you must talk to your doctor before consuming coconut oil.

Make it your everyday cooking oil, prepare bulletproof coffee, salad dressings, and add it to smoothies.

9. Full-Fat Yogurt

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Full-fat yogurt is the best choice when you want to incorporate healthy fats into your daily diet. Low-fat yogurt is low in calories, but it also contains nutrients in limited amounts. Scientists have found that consuming high-fat yogurt can help lower the risk of abdominal obesity (27).

Consume full-fat yogurt post lunch, make salad dressings, smoothies, breakfast bowls, prepare marinades, and add it to curries.

10. Full-Fat Milk

Full-fat or whole milk is more nutritious and healthier compared to low-fat milk. Full-fat milk is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids and may help you lose weight by increasing satiety and fullness (28), (29).

Consume full-fat milk in the morning with breakfast, add it to smoothies, and breakfast bowls.

11. Ground Flax Seeds

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Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals (30). They protect you from cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders, fight cancer, and lower the risk of diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis (31).

Add ground flax seeds to salads, dressings, smoothies, and juices.

12. Grass-Fed Pork And Beef

Lean cuts of grass-fed pork and beef are great sources of vitamins A and E, omega-3 fatty acids, less cholesterol-elevating saturated fatty acids, and antioxidants like superoxide dismutase and glutathione (32).

Consume lean cuts of grilled or pan-seared meat with dark leafy veggies.

13. Dark Chocolate

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Dark chocolates are rich in flavonoids, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus. These help protect the heart by improving blood flow and lower the risk of obesity and diabetes type 2 by increasing insulin sensitivity (33). Dark chocolate also regulates hunger by increasing satiety (34).

Consume a piece of 80% or more dark chocolate after dinner twice a week. You can also add it to smoothies and breakfast bowls.

14. Olives

Olives are a great source of healthy fats and may help lower inflammation, strengthen immunity, protect the DNA, reduce oxidative stress, and soothe allergies.

You may consume olives in salads, sandwiches, stews, curries, etc.

15. Soybean And Tofu

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Soybean and tofu are great sources of polyunsaturated fats and protein. Soybean and soy products may help protect the heart, improve skin health, and strengthen the bones (35).

Consume soybean and tofu in curries, dal, salad, and sandwiches.

These are the 15 healthy fats-rich foods that will help improve your immunity, hair, skin, and overall health. So, go ahead and start adding these good fats to your diet and protect yourself and your loved ones from most lifestyle-related diseases. Take care!

References

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  2. Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2015 – 2020” USDA.
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  5. Choosing Healthy Fats”, American Cancer Society.
  6. Saturated Fat”, American Heart Association.
  7. Trans Fats”, American Heart Association.
  8. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.”, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr., US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Avocado as a Major Dietary Source of Antioxidants and Its Preventive Role in Neurodegenerative Diseases.”, Adv Neurobiol., US National Library of Medicine.
  10. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–             2008”, Nutr J., US National Library of Medicine.
  11. Nutrients In Eggs”, Egg Nutrition Center.
  12. Whole egg consumption and cortical bone in healthy children.”, Osteoporos Int., US National Library of Medicine.
  13. Egg and Egg-Derived Foods: Effects on Human Health and Use as Functional Foods” Nutrients., US National Library of Medicine.
  14. Fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids”, CMAJ., US National Library of Medicine.
  15. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.”, Biomed Pharmacother., US National Library of Medicine.
  16. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life.”, Adv Nutr., US National Library of Medicine.
  17. Fatty fish and fish omega-3 fatty acid intakes decrease the breast cancer risk: a case-control study”, BMC Cancer., US National Library of Medicine.
  18. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption”, Nutrients., US National Library of Medicine.
  19. Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity”, Am J Clin Nutr., US National Library of Medicine.
  20. Cheese as Functional Food: The Example of Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano”, Food Technol Biotechnol., US National Library of Medicine.
  21. Seeds, Sunflower Seed Kernels, dried Nutrition Facts & Calories”, SELFNutrition Data
  22. Chia induces clinically discrete weight loss and improves lipid profile only in altered previous values.”, Nutr Hosp., US National Library of Medicine.
  23. Nutritional value of sesame seeds”, Vopr Pitan., US National Library of Medicine.
  24. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Diseases: Benefits for Human Health.”, Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets., US National Library of Medicine.
  25. Lipid-Lowering Effects of Medium-Chain Triglyceride-Enriched Coconut Oil in Combination with Licorice Extracts in Experimental Hyperlipidemic Mice.”, J Agric Food Chem., PubMed.
  26. Covert manipulation of the ratio of medium- to long-chain triglycerides in isoenergetically dense diets: effect on food intake in ad libitum feeding men.”, Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord., US National Library of                        Medicine.
  27. Whole-fat dairy food intake is inversely associated with obesity prevalence: findings from the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg study.”, Nutr Res., US National Library of Medicine.
  28. Milk, Whole Nutrition Facts & Calories”, SELFNutrition Data.
  29. Full fat milk consumption protects against severe childhood obesity in Latinos”, Prev Med Rep., US National Library of Medicine.
  30. Seeds, flaxseeds Nutrition & Calories.”, SELFNutrition Data.
  31. Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food”, J Food Sci Technol., US National Library of Medicine.
  32. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef”, Nutr J., US National Library of Medicine.
  33. The Nutrition Source”, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  34. Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake”, Nutr Diabetes., US National Library of Medicine.
  35. Soy foods and supplementation: a review of commonly perceived health benefits and risks..”, Altern Ther Health Med., US National Library of Medicine.
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