Healthy Fats: Top 5 Foods Containing Healthy Fats
You always thought the word ‘fat’ means ‘unhealthy’. Maybe that means you’ve been denying your body some of the most healthy fats all this while. Mistake? Yes. There is such a thing as ‘healthy fats’, and here’s why you should make friends with them.Who wants to eat fats? “Not me”, I hear voices from various sides chime in. Admittedly, the voices are only in my head, but it’s true, isn’t it? No one wants to eat fats, never mind the fact that they hear so much about good fats vs. bad fats.
For those of you who had no idea, yes, there are good fats, or healthy fats, and bad fats. Dietary fats, which means fats from plant and animal sources, are of 4 types:
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats
- Trans fats
- Saturated fats
The best healthy fats for the body are the good fats. Bad fats, such as those found in most commercially baked or packaged products, should be replaced with good fats. The one sore point here is unsaturated oils that are industrially manufactured. Experts are split in their views regarding that, as some feel the industrial process might change its fatty acids to trans fat. Another aspect to remember is that if healthy fats come in contact with heat, light or oxygen, they can be damaged.
healthhunt recommends - Organic Virgin Olive Oil
It is recommended that healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, salmon, et cetera should form 25-35 percent of your daily diet. So what really happens if your diet doesn’t have enough healthy fats? This:
- Cholesterol and heart issues – Unsaturated fats lower your LDL (bad cholesterol), increase your HDL (good cholesterol), prevent atherosclerosis by preventing plaque buildup in the arteries, and lower the risk of strokes. A diet missing in healthy fats also misses the benefits.
- Incomplete absorption of certain vitamins – Vitamins that are fat-soluble, such as A, D, E and K, can’t be absorbed and hence, utilised by the body, unless your body has dietary fat, best had via healthy fats. These vitamins are essential for the proper working of the nervous system, and for growth, cell repair, blood clotting, and immunity.
- Decreased brain function – Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, help in boosting brain function, cognitive function (problem-solving abilities, memory etc.), and protecting against dementia.
- You’re always hungry – If you have enough healthy fats in your diet, you will feel full. If you eat low-fat foods, you run the risk of overeating, because you think it is low-fat, when instead, it contains added sugar; and also because they don’t provide satiety, unlike healthy fats.
- Unbalanced diet – Most low-fat diets are rich in carbs or protein, or both. A carb-rich diet can cause weight gain, and possibly diabetes. It can also lead to an increase in the levels of triglycerides in the body, which, in turn, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. A protein-rich diet can cause osteoporosis, and cause the kidneys and the liver to overwork.
- Decreased mental health – Healthy fats, especially omega-3 acids and omega-6 acids, have been known to protect against ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and depression. A low-fat diet will not be able to help insulate nerve cells, and protect against these diseases.
- Increased risk of cancer – A diet low in healthy fats has been proven to increase the risk of cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate.
- Low testosterone levels – Testosterone is produced from cholesterol, and is essential for both men and women. A low-fat diet can cause low levels of testosterone, which can further lead to osteoporosis, depression, and decreased sex drive.
Other important side effects of not including healthy fats in your diet are fatigue, always feeling cold, chronic dry skin, and even irregular periods. If you have ruled out other reasons for irregular periods, not eating enough healthy fats could be the culprit. It can almost be a menopause-like situation, and if you are in this position, go and see a doctor immediately.
So which foods actually contain healthy fats? Here is a list that you’d do well to add to your diet:
- Avocados - Avocados have a ton of benefits. Not only is this fruit super tasty and can be had in numerous ways, but health wise, they are antioxidant-rich, contain a high amount of proteins, and are great for your immunity as well as your skin. To best obtain the benefits of this magical fruit, pair them with tomatoes.
- Coconut oil - A favourite in the southern coastal areas of India, coconut oil has traditionally been used for cooking since a long time. The benefits of coconut oil are numerous. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil provide energy, improve brain and memory function, while the saturated fats in the oil make it great for heart health and for fighting inflammation. You can also use coconut oil for skin and hair benefits, and for oil pulling, which is great for oral health.
3. Olive oil - We all know by now that olive oil is great for health. But do we know why? Olive oil boosts heart health, keeps inflammation away, and helps improve memory and cognitive function. One thing you have to be careful about is how to buy the right bottle of olive oil. Extra-virgin varieties are the best, as they keep the qualities of the oil intact.
4. Ghee/Butter - Yes, you read that right! Butter, and not one of its low-fat variants, along with ghee, or clarified butter, contain healthy fats. If you can find organic butter from grass-fed sources, you can be sure of getting both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help make your skin soft, and your brain function better. These fatty acids are essential, which means that the body needs them but can’t produce them. Ghee is rich in fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K2, along with being lactose and casein-free! Ghee helps strengthen bones, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion.
5. Nuts - Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and pistachios contain a good amount of healthy fats and are great for health. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which translates into radiant and flawless skin, while pistachios are highly beneficial for the eyes. Walnuts are known to affect hair health positively, contain omega-3 fatty acids, lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and improve blood vessel function. Nuts also have a beneficial effect on heart health.
So now that you know all that healthy fats can do for you, and the top foods that contain healthy fats, go out and get grocery shopping!