Why are healthy fats so important in your diet?
All of us have seen many low fat or non-fat options of our favorite foods and we tend to choose those option when we are trying to lose weight even if we don’t fully understand the role of healthy fats in our diet.
For years people have been trying to avoid fats whenever it was possible and switch to the light option when it was available but cutting all fats from our diet doesn’t make us any healthier nor necessarily helps us with weight loss.
Let’s start by saying that fats are very important for our body:
- They are needed to build cell membranes and the sheaths surrounding nerves.
- They help our body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.
- They promote the feeling of satiation, so we feel full, and we stop eating.
- They are indispensable for several biological functions including growth and development.
- They are the most concentrated form of energy in comparison to carbs and proteins.
However, not all fats we get from food are good for us in the long run. The fats that are good for our body and health are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while the fats that are harmful for us are the industrial made trans fats. Ultimately, we have the saturated fats that fall somewhere in the middle.
Healthy fats or good fats: What are they and where to find them
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as “good fats” because they have important health benefits for our heart, cholesterol levels and wellbeing. It is demonstrated that the daily consumption of healthy fats can lower the risk of a heart disease and a stroke, prevent abnormal heart rhythms, lower the blood pressure, fight inflammation, and regulate the triglycerides levels that are associated with cardiovascular problems.
Adding healthy fats to our meals is also beneficial for weight loss since it helps us feel more satiated and reduces hunger.
Great sources of monounsaturated fats are foods like avocadoes, olives, nuts, nut butters and oils (olive, canola, peanut, sesame). Polyunsaturated fats can be found in fatty fish like (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), fish oil, soymilk, tofu, flaxseed and various seeds like sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds.
The power of Omega-3s
Famous omega-3 fatty acids belong to the family of polyunsaturated fats and have miraculous benefits for our health. They are mostly found in fatty fish and but also in seaweed, some nuts, seeds, and beans.
New research is getting published every year around the health benefits of omega-3 since it is proven that they protect our brain against memory loss, reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like cancer and heart diseases, they support a healthy pregnancy and have a positive impact on the development of the baby.
Which fats to include in your diet and which to avoid
Good fats are an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet. When planning our meals, we should consider adding healthy fats from whole unprocessed plant sources like avocadoes, nuts, seeds or animal sources like fish and dairy.
We can introduce sunflower seeds in salads, add avocado to our toast and walnuts to our afternoon snack. We can also spread nut butters in rice cakes or use them to make great dressings with creamy consistency.
It is important to avoid saturated fats and trans fats that are often found in processed foods.
Like sweet and savory packaged snacks, baked goods, fast food like burgers, hot dogs and pizzas. Regular consumption of trans fats and saturated fats can be very dangerous for our health since it raises our cholesterol levels, and it increases the risk of heart diseases.
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