Healthy Fats — Why We Need Them & Where to Find Them
Healthy fats are one of the main macronutrients and have many essential roles in the body. These healthy fats are known as unsaturated fats, which include both mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats play a role in hormone production and make up the cell membrane. Unsaturated fats reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels while increasing HDL, the good cholesterol.
Here are some excellent sources of healthy fats:
All nuts contain healthy fats, but some have more than others. Walnuts are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for skin, hair, and nails. More importantly, they play a role in brain and heart health. Omega-3s are great for cognitive functioning and helping you focus.
Much like nuts, seeds also contain healthy fats. Flaxseeds and chia seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids because they are also high in fiber. Hemp seeds contain 5 grams of healthy fats per tablespoon, and they are high in protein. Some other seeds that are high in healthy fats include sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Avocados have been getting all the attention recently, for good reasons. Avocados are excellent sources of healthy fats and are so versatile— you can add them to sandwiches, salads, and even smoothies. The fats will keep you satisfied for a long time because they digest slower than carbohydrates.
Olive oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil are full of healthy fats. Cooking with these oils can help increase your daily intake of healthy fats. You can also use olive oil and avocado oil for salad dressings. Try to limit your consumption of coconut oil as it is high in saturated fat, which is not as good for you.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are high in polyunsaturated fats. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain and heart health.
Dark chocolate is full of healthy fats and antioxidants and tends to be lower in sugar than milk chocolate. Check the nutrition labels to make sure there aren’t too many added sugars, and have yourself some healthy chocolate treats!
With the range of options available for healthy fats, you can find something on this list to add to just about any meal of the day. For lunch, you can pair your salad with fresh avocado slices and homemade dressing with high-quality olive oil dressing. For snacks, create your own trail mix with some nuts, seeds, and dried fruit pieces. And for dessert, enjoy a bit of delicious dark chocolate.
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