Introduction: What are Healthy Fats and Why We Need Them?
Healthy fats play an important role in our every day functioning. There can be a lot of misconceptions when it comes to eating fat and how much of it to consume. Eating a diet that is rich in good fats is necessary for our health. Our brain, heart, and nerve tissue all need fat to function. It is also important for the production of hormones and for the absorption of Vitamins A, D, E, K and other fat-soluble vitamins. They are also the source of energy for enzymes, muscles and for all other body functions.
The human body can’t make healthy fats on its own so we have to get them from the food we eat or from supplements.
All fats are made up of chains of fatty acids. There are two main types of fatty acids: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal products, such as butter, lard, and beef tallow. Unsaturated fats come from plants and include vegetable oils, such as olive oil.
Types of unsaturated fat
There are two main types of unsaturated fat: polyunsaturated fat (found in corn, sunflower, soybean oil) and monounsaturated fat (found in olive oil). Monounsaturates have one double bond between the carbon atoms while polyunsaturates have more than one double bond between the carbon atoms.
Fat is a crucial nutrient for our body and it can even help us lose weight. However, most people don’t know how much fat they should consume in a day to lose weight. The key is to not eat too much of the wrong type of fat.
When we are on a diet, it’s easy to get caught up in counting calories and forget about the types of food we eat that also contribute to our calorie intake. The amount of fat you should consume in a day depends on your gender and age, but there are some general guidelines you can follow. For example, adults men should have about 30 percent of their daily calories from fat, and most women should consume about 25 percent (1). Of course, each person has different dietary needs and some diets may even call for higher amounts of fats per day. You can always consult with a doctor or dietitian for your specific needs. Here are some of the best foods you can consume for healthy fats.
1. Nuts or Nut butters
Nuts are a good source of protein, healthy fats and fiber. They can be eaten as a snack or added to other foods. Nuts come either salted or unsalted. Unsalted nuts are raw, unsalted and not roasted or cooked in any way. Not only are they great snacks, they are loaded with nutrients.
For example, every serving of walnuts (about 28 grams) contains:
Fat: 18.5 grams
Protein: 4.3 grams
Fiber: 1.9 grams
Carbs: 3.9 grams
Learn more about the great benefits of walnuts here.
There are also a variety of nut butters. Nut butters are made from ground up nuts that may be roasted or cooked in some way before they’re mashed into a paste. They typically contain salt but some variations can be found unsalted. Nut butters can easily be added into any smoothie or shake to give you that extra boost of flavor and fat.
Avocados are a fruit that is native to South America. They have been cultivated in Mexico and Central America since the time of the Aztecs.
The avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is also high in potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B5, and folate. Avocados are also a good source of monounsaturated fats which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
A typical 200 gram serving contains:
Fat: 30 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Carbs: 17 grams
Fiber: 14 grams
3. Olive oil
Olive oil is one of the most popular oils in the world. It is a healthy food that contains many nutrients and vitamins. It is also used in many dishes as an ingredient or topping.
Typically, olive oil is labeled as either virgin olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. The main difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil is that the latter has a lower acidity level and higher quality. Extra virgin olive oil can be eaten raw or it can be used in cooking to add flavor to dishes like salads, pasta, pizza, etc.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
It is made from cold-pressed olives and has a lower acidity level than virgin olive oil. Virgin olive oils are less expensive than extra-virgin oils because they have more impurities (the “fruity” flavors) which can effect flavor.
A standard serving is about 14 grams which contains:
Total Fat: 14 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.2 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.8 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: 10 grams
4. Coconut oil or coconut products
Coconut oil is a saturated fat that has been found to be healthy and good for your heart. It contains lauric acid, which has been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is also rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are easier for your body to digest than long-chain fatty acids.
Coconut products are not only delicious but they are also healthy too! They contain many nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin C, and zinc.
One Tablespoon of coconut oil contains:
Fat: 13.5 grams
5. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is a healthy food that can be eaten in moderation. It has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, lower blood pressure and improve mood.
In a study by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate dark chocolate every day for 15 days showed improved blood pressure compared to those who received white chocolate.
The study also found that those who ate dark chocolate had lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood than those who did not eat it.
Furthermore, eating dark chocolate can help people control their weight by reducing the desire to eat more sugary foods and snacks. Of course, dark chocolate typically includes some added sugar so it is best to eat this food in moderation.
A standard serving (28 grams) contains:
Fat: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Carbs: 13 grams
Sugar: 7 grams
Conclusion: Eating Healthy Fats
Eating healthy fats is a great way to maintain a healthy diet. It is important to get the right kind of fats in your diet as they are essential for brain health, cell growth, and many other bodily functions.
Another thing to note is to eat fats in moderation and not to go overboard with it. Furthermore, the source of the fat is crucial. Staying away from unhealthy items such as fast food or sweets is essential to healthy living. There is a common misconception that eating fat makes you fat. In fact, eating fat does not necessarily make you gain weight, but eating a lot of it might. As we have seen there are so many benefits to gain from healthy fats.
Many people who are on a low-carb diet will replace their previous high-carb diets with a high-fat diet because they will feel fuller and they do not have to worry as much about their blood sugar levels going out of control. It is important to note that every person and their body is different. Make sure you find what works best for yourself and don’t forget you can always consult with a professional.
If you are interested in more nutrition guides make sure to check out our nutrition page!