Even though the media, nutritionists, and doctors like to go back and forth about what is good for us and what isn’t, something we always deal with in our regular, maintained diet is fats. Some fats are good (mono- and polyunsaturated, omega-3s), while others are bad (saturated and trans). Knowing this, food companies are stocking shelves with low-fat options, but it isn’t packaged foods that will help anyone lose weight—no matter how “low-fat” they claim to be. Besides avoiding pre-packaged, processed, or refined foods, people need to know the best sources for good fats to keep this important aspect of your diet in check. Especially since consuming healthy fats in moderation can help you manage moods, control your weight, and stay focused by warding off fatigue. Here is a short list of the best sources of healthy fats.
Fish and seafood is an awesome source of healthy fats, especially those omega-3s that are über heart and brain friendly: warding off heart disease and lowering cholesterol. This is one source of healthy fats that everyone can get on-board with. Very oily fish, like salmon, sardines, Atlantic or Pacific mackerel, Albacore tuna, lake trout, and lake herring are the top choices, and people should get at least two, 3-to-8-ounce servings per week. It’s best to serve your fish selections grilled, baked, poached, or broiled. On top of being a great source for healthy fats, fish supply heart-healthy diets with protein and numerous important nutrients. If you absolutely cannot stand eating our friends from the sea, a cod fish liver oil supplement is an effective source of omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D.
With a nickname like “butter pear,” you’ve got to imagine that an avocado has at least some fat in it. Lucky for the guacamole lovers in the audience, most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated; in other words, heart-friendly, fighting belly fat and lowering cholesterol. With an average of 30 grams of fat per fruit, moderation is still required, but swapping a helping or two of mayo, cream cheese, or butter with avocado slices every week is definitely a step in the right direction. They are great additions to sandwiches, salads, a side dish of chips and veggies, or breakfast staples like omelets. Alongside being a healthy fat, avocados also provide potassium (more than the average banana) and fiber (beating down LDL cholesterol and triglycerides) to a well-structured diet. Plus, when avocados are consumed with other vitamin- and mineral-rich foods, they assist in the body’s natural absorption of those vitamins and minerals.
Yep, all of them: almonds, pistachios, walnuts, macadamias, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, etc. There are some more healthy nuts than others, like almonds have the most vitamin E and pistachios are maestros at eye health with lutein, carotenoids, and zeaxanthin. But research has determined that among the overall population, nut eaters tend to be more slender, less likely to be diabetic, and at a lower risk for heart disease. Pistachios are the nuts lowest in fat, and you get nearly 50 in a 1-ounce serving! Compared to just over 10 walnut halves and 20 almonds. Nuts and seeds are easy additions to any diet, eat them raw as a snack or on salads, include them with dinner meals by garnishing meat dishes or coating the meat in ground nuts and seeds. Though small in size, they pack a big punch when added to any diet. Aside from being a healthy fat, they also provide plant-based proteins, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium, which is a mineral average folks typically struggle to get enough of. Kick up a trail mix of your favorite nuts and seeds, season them with sea salt or honey and roast them up in the oven. You can start adding more protein and healthy fats to your diet as soon as crave your next snack! Standard serving size, as previously mentioned, is one ounce: for example, 15 pecan halves, 35 peanuts, 49 pistachios, 18 cashews, 14 walnut halves, or 24 almonds, just to name a few.
One important seed among this hard-working group is the flaxseed, which helps at improving good cholesterol (HDL) levels. These versatile little seeds can practically be sprinkled on anything edible, but favorites are cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, salads or salad dressings. Even sprinkle some flaxseeds into your favorite muffin or coffee cake batter and bake in the healthy! These small packages full of good fats can also make your skin look younger and softer. They boost fiber in a regulated diet and can reduce a body’s inflammation. Eat them as is, reduced to an oil, or grind them into a powder to include with batters or salad dressings.
This staple of the Mediterranean diet has been touted as the cornerstone of a heart-healthy diet for years, even packing 100 calories per tablespoon; the benefits surely outweigh the calories, in this case. Extra virgin supplies vitamin E and vitamin K, working as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, lowering blood pressure, and hindering the risk of specific cancers. All of that from a rich, flavorful monounsaturated fat! Nearly 80 percent is monounsaturated, and its main fatty acid is omega-9, otherwise known as oleic acid. Oleic acid works hard to reduce LDL cholesterol while boosting HDL cholesterol levels, and the risk of atherosclerosis. Moderation is key, though, if you’re trying to drop weight. This versatile oil can be used in nearly every style of food, especially for stir-frying, searing, braising, sautéing, or making homemade salad dressings.