Does the term “healthy fats” sound like an oxymoron? I mean, we all know that fatty foods aren’t exactly healthy, right? Of course, not all dietary fats are created equal. Some keep your immunity top-notch, keep cholesterol at bay, make your skin glow, or help you lose weight while others just do the exact opposite, causing serious health problems. But health experts insist that infusing certain fats and oils into your meals can be beneficial for your health.
Now, in case you are wondering, healthy and unhealthy fats contain very different components. Unhealthy or ‘’bad’’ fats are tans fats and saturated fats that turn to solids (oh yes, butter). Trans fats comprise of packaged junk food, deep-fried food, and candy bars while saturated fats include lard, beef, cheese, and ice cream.
However, healthy fats are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are olive oil, sesame oil, olives, and almonds. Polyunsaturated fats include things like walnuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, tuna, and tofu. The list of healthy fats is actually long and varied, but here’s a breakdown of eat you should be consuming on the regular.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is highly potent for heart health, as it lowers cholesterol levels, and helps control blood sugar levels. The oil is also made up of antioxidants that can stave off wrinkles and other aging signs. It can be used as a go-to oil of choice! Pour it over vegetables, eat it with bread, mix it with a little lemon juice, garlic, and spices to create the perfect salad dressing, and substitute it for vegetable oil when cooking. Around two tablespoons daily is all you need.
This oil literally brims with other health benefits like boosting brain function, and many others. However, in order to get these benefits, EVOO shouldn’t be cooked or heated up because the chemical changes that take place in its compound when this is done could be harmful to your health.
Seemingly fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are high on omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can help improve metabolism and relieve bloating. An Australian study indicated that obese people who consumed fish every day enhanced their glucose-insulin response. Meaning: Seafood like salmon may help improve digestion and block food cravings. You can use one to two servings of salmon weekly and with things like EVOO, fresh garlic, herbs, and veggies.
Did you know that almonds contain very high vitamin E? Well, they do. They are also powerful antioxidants, which means that they prevent skin cells damage and aging.
In addition, as a monounsaturated fat, almonds contain fiber, protein, and vitamin E, and also magnesium, which helps your body stabilize its blood sugar levels. Most health experts suggest eating about 23 almonds—a perfect snack!
No, we are not saying you should eat fried eggs every day. However, eggs provide unsaturated fats and are good sources of B vitamins, which can be just what your heart needs.
Flaxseeds contain a powerful plant antioxidant lignin that has been proven to reduce the growth of tumors and lower inflammation. It also contains fiber, which can help you shed some weight. You want a healthy source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid? Flaxseeds are an excellent source!
Ground versions can be added to bread and sprinkled on yogurt, salad, cereal, and pretty much everything else you eat. Flaxseed oil can also be added to pasta, smoothies, soup … really, anything. It has one nutty flavor that easily blends into most dishes.
Avocados contain high levels of vitamin E (a nutrient responsible for stimulating the skin’s collagen production) and antioxidants that help detoxify the body. The monounsaturated fat content in it is effective in moisturizing and hydrating the skin too.
However, when compared to EVOO, avocados are pretty high in fat. It is therefore recommended that you don’t consume more than a quarter of a cup daily. A slice or two on top of a salad can be an excellent substitute for saturated fatty cheese, while a heart-healthy (and BeFantastico-approved!) meal can include a slice of mashed-up.
Did you know that cocoa butter is extracted from the cacao bean and incorporated into most high-grade dark chocolate you eat today? The good news: The higher the cocoa content, the better it is, so scout for chocolate bars that contain about 70-85% cocoa, and not those packed with bad fats like full-fat milk.
We understand that this may not seem healthy to you, but when eaten in moderation, peanut butter is a great source of healthy fat. It is filled with both monounsaturated fats and saturated fats. Its overall nutritional profile includes fiber and potassium that is perfect for you—in small doses, of course.