If you are someone who avoids eating fatty foods at all cost because you think they will make your waistline expand, then it’s time to get the skinny on fats. Let me start by saying that fats are not all created equal. Trans fats are the bad guys. If you say hello to trans fats too often then you can definitely say goodbye to your skinny jeans and the quality of your health. But there are a whole other class of fats out there that our bodies actually need for energy, cell growth, nutrient absorption, hormone balance, and more.
Healthy fats include polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats. Before we go over the 10 healthy fat foods that every balanced diet should include, let’s take a quick lesson on healthy fats.
Unsaturated fats – This type of fat is typically liquid at room temperature and can be found in foods like olive oil, seeds, nuts, and seafood. I’ll talk more about those foods in just a minute.
Saturated fats – This type of fat is typically solid at room temperature. While saturated fats are often viewed as “bad” fats, certain sources are considered great for our health. Take coconut oil for example!
Often referred to as a “superfood,” avocados are among the most nutrient-dense fruits on earth. They contain a long list of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, they’re loaded with protein, fiber, and fat. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), avocados contain around 29 grams of fat. Don’t let that high number scare you, though. Studies have found avocados are amazing for health. They are known to:
- Aid weight loss
- Improve heart health
- Lower bad cholesterol levels
- Fight cancer
- Improve digestion
- Support brain function
- Protect against insulin resistance and diabetes
- Balance hormones
- Support healthy skin
- Support eye health
After reading the health benefits, it’s no wonder avocados achieved “superfood” status.
When it comes to incorporating avocados into your daily diet, they’re extremely versatile. Aside from traditional guacamole, you can mash them up and replace butter on toast. You can also add them to soups, salads, and smoothies. If you like to bake, you can even use them as a fat replacement in baked goods.
Over the years, eggs have gotten a pretty bad reputation. Some people avoid eggs altogether because they believe the high fat and cholesterol content make them unhealthy. Then there are the people who only eat egg whites because they believe the yolk is the only unhealthy part. According to researchers, the truth is, eating whole eggs is extremely good for you. It’s important to remember that not all fats and cholesterol are created equal. Eggs are actually a great source of protein, healthy fats, and good cholesterol. Plus, eating just one egg provides your body with 13 essential vitamins and minerals. Oh, and did I mention that one large egg is only 70 calories?
If you want to reap the amazing health benefits of eggs, you will want to eat the entire egg. Yes, that includes the controversial yolk. According to experts at the Egg Nutrition Center, key nutrients such as choline, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iron are found exclusively in the yolk. Consuming the nutrients from whole egg can help with:
- Weight management
- Improve muscle strength
- Support healthy brain function
- Support eye health
- Support healthy pregnancy
So which type of eggs are the healthiest? According to the Egg Nutrition Center, the answer may surprise you. They say:
“The nutrient content of eggs is similar regardless of color (white or brown), grade (AA, A, or B), or how they are raised (organic, free-range, and conventional).”
3) Salmon (& Other Fatty Fish)
Wild caught salmon is another powerhouse food. According to the USDA, a 3 ounce Atlantic salmon fillet contains 17 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat. While the fat content may sound high, remember it’s good fat. Salmon is rich in beneficial Omega-3s, which have been known to:
- Support heart health
- Lower bad cholesterol
- Fight diabetes
- Aid digestion
- Improve mood
- Support healthy brain function
- Reduce risk of cancer
Those are just some of the top benefits on our list of 13 reasons to include Omega-3 fats in your diet.
Along with salmon, there are other fatty fish in the sea that pack a nutritional punch. They include mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends people eat at least two servings of fish a week to reap the Omega-3 benefits.
4) Coconut Oil
Today, it seems everyone is going coco-nuts … and rightfully so. It feels like coconut oil can cure just about everything. It has anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties to ward off harmful toxins and illnesses. As of today, there are more than 1,500 studies that prove coconut oil offers amazing health benefits such as:
- Aids weight loss
- Fights inflammation
- Lowers bad cholesterol
- Boosts the immune system
- Fights cancer
- Fights UTIs
- Improves digestion
- Reduces stomach ulcers
- Supports brain health
- Boosts energy
- Heals burns
- Prevents gum disease
Believe it or not, those are just a few benefits. The list goes on! Before we learned about coconut oil’s health and beauty benefits, though, a lot of people actually feared consuming coconut oil because it’s full of saturated fat. Just one tablespoon has a whopping 14 grams of fat. Here’s what researchers now know — coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Unlike long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) found in plant-based oils, MCFAs are easy to digest, immediately convert into energy, and not readily stored as fat.
Consuming just one tablespoon of coconut oil at meals could have major effects on the body. To add more coconut oil into your diet, try cooking with it. Since coconut oil has a high smoke point, it’s great in the frying pan. You can also use it to replace butter on toast, use it as coffee creamer, add it to your morning oatmeal, put a spoonful in yogurt, or mix some into smoothies.
Note: When you’re buying coconut oil, make sure to pick up a bottle that says the following: Organic, virgin, unrefined.
5) Olive Oil
Just because we love coconut oil so much doesn’t mean we should forget about olive oil. The oil we’ve nicknamed “liquid gold” is derived from olives. Manufacturers simply squeeze olives until oil is released. Then, voila, you have olive oil!
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