Food & Diet
6 Foods High in Unstaturated Fats that Are Good For Your Health
There are many controversies about fat and whether it’s good to eat a high-fat diet or we should avoid fat as much as possible. Also, there are many doubts about which fats are good for our health (if any) and which are bad. We have been hearing that we should avoid saturated fats and focus on eating unsaturated ones. Although, not all saturated fats are dangerous (in fact, we need a certain amount of them in order for our lungs to function properly), it is better that the highest percentage of the fats we take in daily are unsaturated. This all sounds too abstract, especially as no one really explains what exactly we should be eating if we want to take in healthy fats. This article will list some of the common foods that contain good levels of unsaturated fats which, in moderate amounts, are good for improving your blood cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of heart disease and help control your blood sugar level thus lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. A proper amount of unsaturated fats can also boost your immune system, increase your energy levels, boost your brain power, etc. Cutting out the fat from your diet can be detrimental for your health, but basing your diet on the wrong (processed, hydrogenised, etc) types can harm you as well.
First, it’s important to know that there are three main types of unsaturated fats – monounsaturated fatty acids contained in various foods and oils, polyunsaturated fatty acids contained mostly in plant-based foods and oils, and omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in fatty fish. These types of fat are considered healthy. If you want to replace the bad fats from your diet with these, read on to find out which foods contain them.
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats similar to those found in olive oil. These fats have been linked with reduced risk of heart disease and lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Just a handful of almonds per day can improve your body’s ability to absorb fat soluble vitamin E, good amounts of potassium and magnesium, thus boosting your immune system and giving you energy and focus. Although almonds (as well as all the other types of nuts) contain high levels of fat, they do not cause weight gain if your diet is balanced. Many nutritionists call almonds a superfood for all the benefits it provides.
Walnuts are a great protein-rich snack that contains unsaturated fatty acids. It is easy to incorporate them into your diet – they’re not too expensive, you can carry them with you in a bag or eat them at home instead of some unhealthy snacks. Walnuts contain omega-3s which help your brain function properly, prevent depression and improve cognitive function. Besides that, they also help decrease the risk of high LDL cholesterol levels, heart disease and mental problems – if eaten in moderation. Other similarly beneficial nuts you can eat to take in healthy unsaturated fats are hazelnuts, peanuts (or peanut butter), and basically all other types of nuts. Just remember not to eat them in excess amounts, as they are high in calories and if you eat too much (more than 1-2 handfuls per day) you could gain weight. Also, make sure that you eat raw nuts, because when you roast them they lose most of what makes them beneficial.
Around 75 percent of the fat in avocado is good fat. This super-plant contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and eating half of one fruit is enough to satisfy your body’s daily need for fat. Although they are very fatty, avocados don’t contain any cholesterol and are a perfect replacement for unhealthy fats.
Most animal proteins (particularly the fatty parts) contain saturated fats. On the other hand, fatty fish contains high amounts of unsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are heart-healthy and beneficial for your overall health as well as for losing and controlling weight. One or two portions of fatty fish per week are more than enough to improve your health and restock your omega-3 supplies. The best fatty fish are probably halibut, albacore tuna, sardines and salmon (wild caught). These fish are tasty, not too difficult to get, and relatively easy to prepare. When it comes to sardines, you can have them fresh or canned.
Flax seeds are another good source of omega-3 acids. You can add them to your pastries, oatmeal, salads or even yogurt, and you can have them ground or plain. These seeds are high in healthy fats, but very low in carbohydrates, meaning that if eaten in moderation they can even help with weight loss. Eating them can improve your digestion, your overall health, as well as the looks of your skin and hair due to its moisturizing effect. Eat one tablespoon per day and enjoy the benefits. Other seeds contain good fats too, and you can freely incorporate them into your diet. However, chose raw ones, because packaged seeds tend to be roasted or fried in oil, which adds trans fat to them, and that’s not what you want.
Unprocessed vegetable oils usually contain monounsaturated fats, and they are commonly liquid at room temperature, but turn solid when they are cold. These oils include olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sesame oil which are all beneficial as they reduce bad cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Instead of using commercial hydrogenised vegetable oils, pay a little more for unprocessed organic vegetable oils and improve your health.
All these sources of unsaturated fats are healthy foods. However, have in mind that because they contain high levels of fat, they are also high in calories, which means that you cannot eat them without portion control if you want to maintain or lose weight. Always be moderate, eat proper foods and your health will improve.