The minute people hear the word fat, they tend to run for the hills; however, with this being said, there are healthy fats that your body needs to help it function properly. When eating a balanced diet, especially if you have specific body goals, you will need to eat the correct levels of protein, carbs and fats. This article will discuss everything you need to know about healthy fats, so you can feel at ease while enjoying it as a part of your everyday diet.
We won’t bore you with too many scientific details about fats, but they are long strands of organic molecules, composed of both carbon and hydrogen, which have different configurations, which leads to them either being healthy or unhealthy. There are three main dietary fats:
Saturated fats do not contain any double bonds and each carbon is linked to two hydrogens, thus saturating the molecule with hydrogens. Unsaturated fats sometimes have one, or more, double bonds between carbons, so they do not all have hydrogen linked to them. Monounsaturated fats have just one double bond, whereas polyunsaturated have multiple. While you may wonder – why do I care? The ways these bonds are linked change the molecule shape, which determines the way in which the fats act when consumed.
When we refer to healthy fats, we are referring to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. However, saturated fats have had their name tarnished, but are not as unhealthy as they are made out to be, on some occasions.
Fats can provide a range of health benefits:
- Improved cardiovascular system
- Supports metabolism
- Produces hormones
- Helps with the absorption of nutrients
- Aids memory
Fats are also great at keeping you full between meals, which means you will want to snack less often. Let’s take a look at some high-fat foods that are very healthy and can be consumed regularly as a part of a balanced diet:
Unlike most fruits which are packed with carbs, avocados have a 77% fat content. The main fat found in avocados is a monounsaturated called oleic acid. In addition to being high in healthy fat, avocados are an excellent source of fiber and potassium and aid in improving cardiovascular health.
While cheese can contain high levels of saturated fat, it also bursting with calcium and protein! Cheese is also rich in nutrients like vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium.
Whilst dark chocolate does have high fat levels of 65%, it is actually very healthy; rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa) is even healthier than blueberries. Due to its high antioxidant levels, dark chocolate is great for cardiovascular health.
Many people find eggs to be quite controversial and tend to go with egg white omelettes due to the fat and cholesterol content found in the yolk. However, whole eggs are considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, so the yolk is an essential part in providing this.
Fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and herring are packed full of healthy fatty acids like omega-3 and also provide high levels of protein.
The healthiest kinds of nuts you can opt for include walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts which are full of healthy fats and loaded with fiber. Nuts are also a great source of protein, so perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
It is actually quite surprising to learn that chia seeds are quite a fatty food! Fat makes up 80% of a serving of chia seeds, however, the omega-3 fatty acids found in them are so healthy and full of minerals.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the healthiest forms of fats you can consume as it is full of antioxidants and includes vitamins E and K.
Remember we said that saturated fats were considered the ‘unhealthy’ fat, however, coconut oil is full of saturated fat but is considered one the best oils with which you can cook. The fats found within coconut oil actually can help you feel less hungry and can even speed up your metabolism.
Full Fat Yogurt
You may think you are doing yourself a favor when grocery shopping by picking up low-fat yogurt options, however, you are limiting the number of probiotics you can get. Full-fat yogurt can be quite calorific, but it can help with your digestive health. Just always be sure to check out the nutrition label on your yogurt before you buy, as many brands are notorious for loading up their yogurt with sugar while advertising themselves as being low-fat; so while they may be, in fact, low-fat, they are harming you more than what true, full-fat yogurt would.
So, the bottom line is fat can be your friend! But, just like every other food group, it is best in moderation. Any food, when abused, can cause negative effects on your body and can result in weight gain.