Five Sources of Healthy Fat
Many diets give dietary fat a bad rap. While consuming high amounts of trans fats or saturated fats can certainly lead to health complications and weight gain, moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are essential to a healthy diet, and can even help prevent a host of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Below are some of the best natural sources of these “good” fats:
Nuts are a great source of healthy fat, and as an added bonus they contain significant amounts of protein as well. Walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are considered the most nutritionally beneficial nuts, and walnuts have are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids as well. All nuts are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and increased nut consumption may be linked to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Nut-based butters, such as cashew butter, almond butter, and peanut butter, are another excellent choice.
While olive oil is rightfully considered the most healthy and beneficial of the cooking oils, other vegetable-derived oils can also be incorporated into a healthy diet. Sunflower oil, peanut oil, canola oil, and coconut oil all have different healthy fat contents, and all can be used with peace of mind. Consumption of these oils has been linked to lower blood pressure and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eggs are a great, inexpensive source of both protein and healthy fat. While those with cholesterol issues may need to stick to egg whites, the yolk contains many nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and choline, which help keep the brain, heart, and nervous system healthy.
Fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel and anchovies are an ideal source of protein and dietary fat, and are probably the best way of getting more omega-3 fatty acids in any diet. They also contain plenty of important vitamins and nutrients that help fight off cognitive degeneration, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory diseases. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings per week of fatty fish, but eating more than that certainly won’t hurt.
While avocados are quite high in fat content, weighing in at a hefty 30 grams each, they can also be used as an excellent source of dietary fat in moderation. Avocado consumption has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
These foods are all ideal sources of heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Diets that incorporate these foods, cut out trans fats, and limit saturated fat intake have been shown to drastically reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure. Switching out less nutritious options for these foods is an excellent first step towards a longer, healthier life.