Due to the increasing amount of information available to the public, many have heard or read about the presence of “Good” or “Healthy” fats in foods. Although many people tend to think “bad” whenever fat is involved in the conversation, there are certain kinds of fats that are actually good for you. What might surprise you the most, is how easy it can be to add these fats to your diet!
“Good” or “Healthy” Fats
There are multiple kinds of healthy fats, which we have outlined the benefits of for your convenience. Some of these fats are actually “fatty acids” which are the building blocks of proteins, which in turn make up the majority of the structure of your body. Others assist with the production of HDL(Good) Cholesterol, which can reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke or heart attack.
These are a very rare fat substance that exist only in a select number of foods. One of the most common sources of this fat is “oleic acid” which is found in avocados and olive oil. Both of these foods have been long sought after as sources for these monounsaturated fats and their countless benefits. Monounsaturated fats both reduce your bad cholesterol and assist with the production of proteins in your body. By reducing your bad cholesterol, having a healthy amount of these fats in your diet can limit the likelihood that you will suffer from heart disease, a stroke, or a heart attack.
Found commonly in naturally-fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and trout. Adding one or more of these fish to your diet weekly can give you significant results for increasing your Omega-3 levels. Health benefits of Omega-3 acids include production of good cholesterol, reduction of bad cholesterol, and decreased likelihood from heart disease. Additionally, Omega-3 acids play an essential role in the development and maintenance of the central nervous system. Meaning that these are essential to keeping your brain sharp and well-nourished throughout your life.
Fat Suspended Vitamins
Some vitamins that are essential to your health are not water-soluble, meaning they will not mix into a solution where water is the base. Meaning that fats or oils are the primary method of transport for these vitamins. Non-water soluble vitamins include:
- Vitamin A — Essential for eye health and boosting reproductive health in both men and women
- Vitamin E — Antioxidant and vitamin essential for heart health
- Vitamin K — Plays a vital role in helping the blood clot, preventing excessive bleeding
- Omega 6 — Research shows a synergistic antioxidant effect, meaning it will increase the effects of antioxidants
- Riboflavin — Essential for cornea and eye health, prevents migraines
- Folic Acid — Prevention of heart disorders, cancer and birth defects during pregnancy
Foods Containing “Good Fats”
There might be more to the “Avocado Toast” health-craze than first meets the eye. When it comes to “good” or “healthy” fats, raw avocados certainly the superfood of choice. It is recognized as one of the best sources of plant-based healthy fats. In total, they are about 77% fat, making them an excellent source of essential fats for vegans and vegetarians. Aside from eating it atop your favorite whole-grain toast, you can add it sliced to any kind of savory sandwich. Their mild taste makes them a great addition everywhere, for instance, diced avocados make a great addition to any of your favorite salads. If neither of those options suit you, there is always good ol’ fashioned guacamole!
As we said earlier in the article, some fish are naturally fatty. The fat from these fish are very nutritious containing high amounts of monounsaturated fats as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. Although sardines get a bad wrap, they are some of the healthiest and most widely available naturally fatty fish on the market. Personally, I am not a fan of mackarel or herring, as they tend to be on the fishy side of the taste spectrum. Some people prefer this taste, others prefer fish with a milder “fishy” taste. For those who prefer the latter, salmon or trout are excellent and nutritious choices.
The health benefits of olive oil have been long studied in medical history. However, it is only recently that we have discovered why it is olive oil is so healthy for you—and it has to do with healthy fats. Olive oil, whether regular or extra-virgin, is packed full of monounsaturated fats, which reduces your risk of heart disease. It is very easy to add to your diet. If you cook with butter or a different cooking oil such as corn or vegetable oil, more often than not, you can simply replace that with some olive oil. When it comes to baking, it isn’t as simple, but there are many resources online that can help you find the right thickening agents to make the substitution.
Eggs (Yolk and Whites)
I’m sure you have heard the classic health-debate time and time again—”the yolk is good for you … the yolk is bad for you…” Despite all of the medical advances we have overcome, the medical community still has yet to reach a stern consensus on eggs. A big problem with the misconceptions of the health benefits of chicken eggs has to do with the misconception on the difference between good and bad fats. In the early 90s when health nuts were focused on eliminating all sources of fat from their diets, the egg got caught up in the crossfire, and was seen as a deceptively healthy food. However, after further research, chicken eggs have been vindicated as a source of good cholesterol and a great source of protein. Eggs make a great breakfast choice, because they offer sustained energy from being rich in protein, but this can take up a lot of time in your morning routine. If you don’t mind planning ahead, you can hard-boil your eggs beforehand and refrigerate them to make sure they are ready-to-go in the morning!
Just like eggs, cheese is another food that is often debated among nutritionists and health nuts alike. The facts are, every type of cheese is different, and thus has a different fat/protein ratio. Goat cheeses have exclusive types of lipids and fatty acids, while many commercially available milk cheeses contain very little “good fat.” When it comes to getting the most “good” or “healthy” fats out of your diet, labels can be very helpful in determining what cheese will give you the most benefit. While milk based cheeses are widely available, goat cheeses can be difficult to find in some areas.
If you are on a health kick, you might find it tempting to choose the non-fat yogurt options, but these deprive your body of yogurt’s greatest benefit: healthy fats. Alongside being a great source of calcium, yogurt is a great choice for breakfast, especially when added to granola or crushed nuts. Yogurt is also very helpful to your digestive health, as it increases the amount of good bacteria in your gut. These natural “probiotic” bacteria are cultivated naturally from the yogurt-making process, and help keep you regular.