Many people are concerned about eating fats for fear of heart disease and high cholesterol. Plus many are afraid that fat will make them fat. There certainly is no such thing as healthy obesity, but do healthy fats or ‘fatty foods’ exist? Monounsaturated fats are one of these healthy fats.
Healthy Fats Are Good For Your Heart Health
So are there foods which are naturally good for you, delivered in tasty foods that you like to eat? Yes, “good fats” do exist and they are absolutely required by your body so that it can function correctly and many of them taste great, while delivering other health benefits too.
- Nutrition plans like The Mediterranean Diet are full of foods packed with healthy fats.
How important are these particular fatty foods to a healthy lifestyle and increased longevity? Very important! When you eat the right levels of healthy fats, research has shown that you reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. You can also drastically reduce your potential for developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Healthy Fat Foods
What you are looking for are those foods which deliver healthy essential fatty acids (EFAs). These “good fats” promote heart health, help you regulate a healthy body weight, make your skin and hair look and feel younger, and limit your chances of contracting many dangerous and even deadly diseases.
Here are some of the foods with healthy fat that you need to be eating regularly.
- Corn oil and extra virgin olive oil
- Flaxseed and sunflower oil
- Walnuts, almonds and seeds
- Salmon, tuna and sardines
- Avocados and olives
- Goat’s milk
- Oysters and clams
- Nut butters
- Unprocessed meat
- Fresh eggs
- Coconut oil.
These food items deliver monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids and other “good fats”. Let’s take a look at monounsaturated fats.
As I said, we need healthy forms of fat in our diets and we do so for many reasons. They help absorb certain minerals, they are an excellent source of energy, they support brain health and are vital in helping the body to build cell membranes.
- Unsaturated fats, one of which is monounsaturated, is a form of healthy fat that has fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to their carbon chains when compared to saturated and trans fats.
- Monounsaturated fats differ from polyunsaturated fats in the amount of carbon-to-carbon double bonds. Monounsaturated fats have one, polyunsaturated fats have more than one. Anyway, let’s move on!
Benefits Of Monounsaturated ‘Healthy’ Fats
Monounsaturated fats are beneficial in a variety of ways. A study of the Mediterranean diet in the 1960s found there were much lower levels of some diseases, including heart disease, even though the diet was high in fat (monounsaturated fat).
A more recent study found a significant benefit of this diet rich in olive oil and other sources of monounsaturated fats in reducing risks of heart disease, even in those who were at a higher risk overall.
- Decreased risk of breast cancer – A Swedish research team found there were decreased instances of breast cancer in women who ate a diet rich in monounsaturated fats.
- Cardiovascular disease – Monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood. High cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and strokes, which can of course be fatal.
- Weight loss – Diets high in monounsaturated fat can be beneficial for weight loss, especially combined with exercise. Studies have shown that a higher intake of monounsaturated fats compared to saturated fats yielded up to 4.3% higher resting energy expenditure (calories burnt independent of activity level). Researchers believe this could be linked to the mitochondria (parts of the cell that burn calories) being able to burn off more energy as heat.
- Helps Improve Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis – Monounsaturated fats help reduce inflammation in the body. This is especially beneficial to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, as arthritis is caused by inflammation to the joint, causing swelling and pain.
Foods Rich In Monounsaturated Fats
- Olive Oil
- Canola Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
Here are a few tips to increase your intake monounsaturated fats.
- Make your own salad dressing using extra virgin olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil. You can make some delicious dressings as a result.
- Sauté vegetables using olive oil. Not only can this improve your diet, it also tastes amazing.
- Eat more avocadoes. Instead of having something unhealthy on your toast in the morning, why not smear avocado on your bread instead. A healthy breakfast indeed. I love doing this!
- Improve your snacking. Forget reaching for the chocolate when you are hungry between meals, prepare some mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit as a healthy replacement. Almonds, cashews, and macadamias are excellent in this mix. Sweeten it up with some raisins, cranberries, or banana chips.
- Nuts are high in calories so moderation is key, a small handful daily is more than enough to gain the benefits and moderate caloric intake. I like to eat almonds as they have many health benefits.
- Seeds make great snacks, just be sure to eat them in dry roasted form without added flavors, or sugars.
Fats You Should Always Avoid
All fats fall into 1 of 3 categories – saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. We have just discussed monounsaturated fats as being a healthy fat, however, you want to steer clear of trans fats and saturated fats. Those are the “bad fats”. They will usually be found in processed and fast foods.
In the United States, it is now required by law that food manufacturers list trans fat on food labels, so identifying it is simple.
Butter, animal fats, baking chocolate, cheese, whipping cream and processed meat are all high in saturated fats. Fried foods, many fast food items, nondairy creamer, dessert mixes, some frozen, processed foods, doughnuts and microwave popcorn are examples of foods which are high in trans fats.
Ramp up the amount of nuts and seeds, plant food oils, fish, avocados and olives in your diet. You will benefit from the healthy fatty acids which are essential for health and you will immediately reduce your risk of contracting many diseases and cancers, you will feel and look great, and you may even lose a few unwanted pounds in the process.
As you can see, small changes in your diet can be beneficial to your health. Having a healthy heart is obviously vital, and healthy fats can support you in this quest. Take action today for a healthier tomorrow!