Are you afraid of fats? If so, you’re not alone. For years we’ve been told that eating fat will add inches to your waistline, raise cholesterol, and cause a myriad of health problems. But now we know that not all fat is the same. While bad fats can wreck your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases, good fats can protect your brain and heart. In fact, healthy fats—such as omega-3s—are vital to your physical and emotional health. By understanding the difference between good and bad fats and how to include more healthy fat in your diet, you can improve your mood, boost your energy and well-being, and even lose weight.
What Are Fats?
Fats are also called ‘fatty acids’ or ‘lipids.’ Fats in our body are made up of three molecules joined together. This three-molecule structure is called a “triglyceride”.
Most of the fat we need is made by our bodies, but there are some fats our bodies cannot make. We can only get these fats by eating them. These fats are called “essential” fats because it is essential that we get them from food. Essential fats include Omega-3 fats (found in foods such as fish and flax seed) and Omega-6 fats (found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and corn oil).
There are three main types of fat in the foods you eat:
- unsaturated fats from plant foods.
- saturated fats from animal foods.
- Trans fats from commercially prepared, processed foods.
What Are Bad Fat?
Saturated fats and trans-saturated fats both are unhealthy fats which are mainly harmful for your body. Other than adding weight, they also increase cholesterol level, which may result in many heart diseases and stroke. Remember to eat these in moderation and on rare occasions.
- Ice cream
- Highly processed foods
- Snack crackers
- Microwave popcorn
- Fried foods
- Certain margarine
Health Benefits Of Eating Fat
- For muscles building
- Promoting weight loss
- Boost immune system
- Healthy skin
- Reduce depression
- Reduce cravings
Reduce the risk of diabetes
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce belly fat
- Boost your sex drive
Sharpen your brain
- Improved cardiovascular risk factors
- Stronger bones
- Healthy lungs
Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Fat
As healthy fats help our bodies build and maintain cell membranes and absorb and transport vitamins, inadequate intake results in functions of these processes being impaired, Gawthorne explained.
Signs of inadequate fat intake include:
- Dry and scaly skin
- Dry eyes
- Feeling constantly cold
- Dry hair and/or hair loss
- Hormonal problems, including loss of menstrual cycle
- Inability to feel full/always feeling hungry
- Issues concentrating and/or mental fatigue
- Deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins
- Constant fatigue.
Healthy Fats And High-Fat Foods You Should Be Eating
Yes, that’s right. One ounce (about 3 fingers’ worth) of dark chocolate counts as one serving and contains about 9 grams of fat. About half of its fat content is saturated, but it also contains healthy fats and numerous other healthy nutrients—vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and flavonoids (plant-based antioxidants). And did you know a 1-ounce portion of dark chocolate also boasts 3 grams of fiber? Practically a vegetable.
An avocado is a fruit unlike any other because it has more healthy fats than carbohydrates! About 80 percent of an avocado’s calories are from fat, mostly MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), which have a host of benefits, including reducing inflammation, among others.
Walnuts are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha linoleic acid, an omega-3 found in plants. A recent study linked a handful per day to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol as well as improved blood vessel function. Research has also shown that eating nuts appears to reduce the risk of blood clots that can cause heart attacks as well as improve the health of the lining of our arteries.
Almonds are my favorite nut — you can always find them in my travel bag. Eating a handful of almonds can satisfy you for at least a few hours, making it easier to avoid eating unhealthy foods and increasing the chance of losing weight successfully.
Almonds are loaded with antioxidants, which are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin. Don’t peel off the skin!
5#.Nut And Seed Butters
An easier way to get all the fatty goodness of nuts may be from a nut or seed butter. Try almond and cashew, or sunflower seed butter, for a plant-based dose of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. All you need is 2 tablespoons—spread it on toast, or eat it with fresh apple slices. Choose all-natural nut butters with as few ingredients as possible.
Healthy high-fat foods like sardines are fantastic sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating them regularly will improve your heart health. In fact, numerous studies have shown that people living in cultures where fish are regularly consumed live longer and enjoy better health.
Contains DHA and EPA which are two kinds of omega-3 fats that can reduce inflammation, lower the risk of skin cancer and heart disease. Other fishes that are high in DHA and EPA are trout, mackeral or sardines.
Although it contains both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, tofu’s fat content levels are not as high as other foods described here. Still, you will benefit from eating three ounces of this plant-based protein given the substantial amounts of calcium and low amounts of sodium present in this food.
Ghee, a form of clarified butter, has immense benefits. It’s a staple in Indian households as a main cooking oil.
Ghee is very stable even at high temperatures and doesn’t go rancid. It’s rich in vitamins A and E, if it’s sourced from grass-fed cows. Ghee is also rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that can decrease inflammation and help improve digestion.
This food may have fairly high saturated fat content, but it remains among the undoubted good fats to eat. Using coconut oil may help to suppress appetite and boost metabolism in addition to improving brain function.
It’s become the go-to cooking oil in many kitchens for a good reason: Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fats. But don’t be too heavy-handed with that pour—just one tablespoon has 14 grams of fat.
Eggs contain both saturated fat and choline, which can boost memory skillsand overall brain health.