While fats are often demonised as a health taboo, in reality they play an important role in promoting health and wellness. In fact, healthy fats are so beneficial that many high-fat foods are now classified as superfoods. You just need to know your way around good and bad fats, which are worlds apart. As a general rule of thumb, anything natural gets the seal of approval, while anything processed or modified can be left on the shelf. Want to know more? Here’s an introduction to incorporating easy, everyday healthy fats into your routine.
More than just a deliciously creamy fruit, avocados are loaded with potassium and fibre. They’re also rich in healthy fats and with a 77% fat by calories ratio, they’re much fattier than many animal proteins. Oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat that’s also predominant in olive oil, is a major component of avocados. It’s associated with a host of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular function.
Nuts and seeds
An excellent source of plant-based protein, nuts and seeds are loaded with healthy fats. Not to mention vitamin E, fibre and magnesium. If you’re a serial snacker, nuts can be a great way to transition away from chips and cookies. Instead put together a mix of your favourite nuts and seeds, adding a little excitement with extras like dried cranberries, dark chocolate chunks or yogurt-coated raisins. If you’re after a healthy fat boost you can also sprinkle a handful of pumpkin and sunflower seeds onto a stir fry or throw a handful of cashews into your morning smoothie.
Chia seeds may be tiny, but they pack a serious punch when it comes to fat content. By calories, chia seeds are around 80% fat. This percentage is largely made up of ALA, a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid. With 30 grams or chia seeds containing around 9 grams or healthy fats, incorporating a generous sprinkle of chia into your cereal, pasta or poppyseed loaf can be a great way to harness the health benefits of the superfood.
Full-fat yogurt and milk
In the past there was a trend to shy away from full-fat dairy products, though over the past few years deliciously creamy yogurts and milks have returned with vengeance. Health experts maintain that full-fat versions are easier for the body to digest and offer a complete package of fat, calcium and calories. Vitamins A and D are also fat-soluble, which means your body needs the natural fats in full-cream dairy products to absorb the goodness.
One of the most potent sources of saturated fat in the plant kingdom, coconuts are not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. Roughly 90% of the fatty acids in coconuts are saturated, though this doesn’t appear to increase heart disease. Instead, the body metabolises coconut-derived fatty acids differently and send them directly to the liver, where they’re used to create ketone bodies. A host of studies wax lyrical about the health benefits of coconuts, including claims they can boost the metabolism and minimise the onset of Alzheimer’s.
This is just the beginning of where to find healthy fats, with sources like salmon, tuna, extra virgin olive oil, whole eggs, dark chocolate, edamame beans, lean beef and parmesan cheese also in the good books. The trick is to educate yourself on where to find healthy fats and start experimenting in the kitchen.