Table of Contents
- What Are the Benefits of Healthy Fats?
- How Did Fat Get Such a Bad Reputation?
- Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fatty Acids
- The Top 11 Good Fats for Your Body
- Health Advantages
- Traditional Medical Applications
- Fats that are Good vs. Bad For You
- Carbs vs. Fats
- Fat Requirements
- Side Effects and Risks
- Last Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
Some good fats are essential to a healthy life, while others may be unhealthy.
Do you have a fear of fats? If that’s the case, you’re not alone. For several decades, fat in foods has been demonized in America, as low-fat and non-fat goods became the standard. We were convinced that eliminating even beneficial fats from our diets would help us get our desired physique. In fact, it’s one of the most egregious nutritional deceptions ever perpetrated on the public.
Fat has long been welcomed at the table in other global areas. However, in the United States, we are just now waking up to the fact that not all fats are created equal. Our bodies need fat — especially, good fats — to function properly. And, as high-fat diets like the ketogenic diet become more popular, more individuals are curious about which fats are considered good.
So, what exactly is fat, how can you know whether you’re getting enough healthy fats in your diet, and what is the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats? Continue reading for a list of healthy fats and why you should consider including them in your diet.
What Are the Benefits of Healthy Fats?
Fats are a vital element of a healthy diet, but not all fats are equal. While healthy fats may help decrease cholesterol, improve cognitive function, and promote satiety, bad fats can lead to chronic illness and weight gain.
Avoid highly processed fats that are loaded with additives and harmful components as a general rule of thumb. Trans fats, which are found in refined vegetable oils, processed meats, and snack foods such as chips, crackers, and baked goods, are all rich in disease-causing, artery-clogging trans fats and should be avoided at all costs.
Looking for items that are unprocessed and naturally rich in fats, on the other hand, is the key to obtaining healthy fats to consume. Avocados, full-fat dairy, olive oil, and fatty salmon are just a few examples of foods high in healthful fats.
How Did Fat Get Such a Bad Reputation?
So, how did fats get up on the bad list in the first place? Following WWII, studies emerged that connected meals high in saturated fats, such as eggs and red meat, to coronary heart disease. The American Heart Association had suggested that individuals cut their fat consumption by the 1960s, and the United States Senate convened a series of hearings on the subject in 1976. A fat war erupted following dietary recommendations, which recommended consuming less saturated fat and more carbs.
While the recommendations recommended eating more carbs in the form of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the ordinary American believed that carbs — any carbs, including processed carbohydrates — were healthy and that all fat was bad. The food industry jumped on the bandwagon, and high-carbohydrate, low-fat meals became the standard. Low-fat and no-fat foods were soon lining grocery store shelves and freezers, with sugar added to assist increase taste. Not a coincidence both a sugar addiction and an obesity pandemic erupted in America shortly after low-fat diets became the norm.
What is the issue? High-fat diets were not associated with heart disease in any of the investigations. Several studies have now refuted the myth, demonstrating that dietary saturated fat does not raise the risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, further research has shown that eating the correct kinds of fat and including various high-fat items in your diet may have significant health advantages. For example, according to a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, those who followed a high-fat, low-carb eating plan lost the most weight and had their bad cholesterol levels decreased the most.
Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Unsaturated fats and saturated fatty acids are the two types of healthy fats available.
What is saturated fat, exactly? The term “saturated fat” refers to fatty acids with no double bonds. Butter, coconut oil, and dairy products are examples of saturated fat foods. Although saturated fats were long thought to be detrimental and artery-clogging, more and more research has proven that they may be used in moderation as part of a therapeutic diet.
Meanwhile, the formal definition of unsaturated fat includes any fatty acid with at least one double bond in its chain. These fats are categorized as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats based on the number of double bonds present. Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish are examples of unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fats, unlike saturated fats, have long been known to provide health advantages. For example, unsaturated fatty acids have been shown in trials to aid weight reduction, decrease inflammation, and lessen the risk of heart disease.
According to most experts, when it comes to saturated vs. unsaturated fat, unsaturated fatty acids should make up the bulk of your fat consumption. In a 2015 research, substituting merely 5% of saturated fat calories with the same amount of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids resulted in a 25% and 15% reduction in the risk of heart disease, respectively. Both, however, have their own set of advantages and may be consumed in moderation as part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
The Top 11 Good Fats for Your Body
Not all fats are made equal, but the ones on this list of healthy fats are powerful. These good fats will benefit your body in a variety of ways, including decreasing bad cholesterol and helping you lose weight, as well as giving you lustrous hair and strong nails.
Avocados have so many health advantages that they’re one of the healthiest fruits you can eat, not to mention one of the best healthy fats for keto. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which boost good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol – talk about a two-for-one deal. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, which helps your skin fight free radical damage, promote immunity, and function as an anti-aging nutrient.
It’s very high in protein; in fact, it contains more than any other fruit. Avocado is also one of the most excellent folate foods for pregnant women. It is a vital vitamin that may help prevent birth abnormalities and guarantee proper growth and development.
Try one of these avocado recipes to get more avocados in your diet. Alternatively, add avocado oil to your kitchen cupboard and use it for cooking. It has a moderate flavor that won’t dominate foods like other oils, and it has a high smoke point, making it ideal for grilling or frying. It’s also a fantastic option to pour over salads, sandwiches, or vegetables since it stays liquid at room temperature.
2. Ghee & Butter
We’re all acquainted with “butter-like” items like margarine and other vegetable oil spreads that are regularly available on supermarket shelves. But, on the other hand, real butter should be used instead, ideally raw or from grass-fed, organic sources.
Butter, another casualty of the war on fat, has lately made a return as the advantages of butter become more generally recognized. Butter contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which aid brain function and promote skin health. More crucially, these two fatty acids are essential, which means that the body needs them but cannot generate them on its own; they must be obtained from dietary sources. Butter is also high in fat-soluble vitamins and trace elements, including the strong antioxidant selenium.
Butter is not suitable for high-temperature cooking because of its low burning temperature (about 250 degrees Fahrenheit). To impart a rich, buttery taste to dishes, use butter in baked products and spread over fresh bread (including gluten-free kinds) or add a dab to roasted vegetables.
Meanwhile, the Indian version of butter is swiftly becoming a global favorite. Ghee, or clarified butter, is made by simmering butter to bring out its inherent nutty taste while also giving it a high smoke point, making it perfect for high-heat cooking. In addition, ghee has several health advantages, including being high in fat-soluble vitamins A and E. Vitamins in high-fat foods are best absorbed by your body and then retained in your gastrointestinal system, keeping your metabolism and digestion on track. It’s also lactose and casein-free, making it a great butter substitute for anyone with lactose sensitivity or intolerance.
Ghee may be made at home or purchased in shops. Look for organic or grass-fed cultured ghee when buying it commercially. This healthy fat lasts for many weeks at room temperature, but keeping it in the refrigerator extends its shelf life and keeps it spreadable.
3. Virgin Coconut Oil
Not only is coconut oil one of the healthiest cooking oils available, but you can also apply it to your skin and use on your hair. This is because it’s high in medium-chain fatty acids, which are simple to digest, don’t be stored as fat in the body, and are tiny enough to provide energy to cells nearly instantly.
These fatty acids also help with memory and brain function. Furthermore, since coconut oil has a high quantity of natural saturated fats, it raises good cholesterol. In addition, it boosts heart health, while the antioxidants in coconut oil make it a powerful anti-inflammatory diet that may help lessen arthritic symptoms.
The best part is that incorporating coconut oil into your diet is simple. It may be used in cooking and baking and straight on the skin. However, when cooking with coconut oil, be aware that the taste might be overbearing for some. If that’s the case, consider reducing the amount you use. It’s also worth noting that coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so it’s not the ideal option if you require healthy fat in liquid form. Furthermore, extra virgin coconut oils are preferred over refined or processed coconut oils since refined, or processed coconut oils might remove many of the health advantages.
4. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Is olive oil beneficial to your health? Olive oil has many health advantages that it should be included in practically every diet. To begin, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is excellent for cardiovascular health. Olive oil intake has been associated with enhanced blood vessel function, decreased blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels. In addition, because EVOO is strong in antioxidants, it protects your cells from harm. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory and aids with memory and cognitive function. This is a serious deal since inflammation is the foundation of most illnesses.
Unfortunately, getting your hands on this beneficial fat isn’t as simple as picking up the first bottle you see. First, make careful you get extra virgin olive oil, which indicates that no chemicals are used in the refining process. Unfortunately, several popular products have been found to fall short of the extra virgin olive oil specifications, so it’s crucial to pick intelligently.
Be wary of any brand that costs less than $10 per liter, search for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council, and verify the harvesting date on the label for true EVOO. It’s also not virgin-quality if it’s described as “light,” “pure,” or “blend.” Finally, black bottles are preferable since they shield the oil from oxidation.
Because of its low smoke point, EVOO isn’t suggested for high-heat cooking, but it’s great for salad dressings or spreading over bread or prepared meals.
5. Fish with a lot of fat
Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical for good health. These fats are classified as essential fatty acids since the body cannot manufacture them on its own, necessitating our need for omega-3 sources in our diet.
There are three forms of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) (eicosapentaenoic acid). DHA and EPA, which are found in seafood such as healthy salmon and sardines, are the best sources of omega-3s. On the other hand, ALA may be found in various plant foods such as nuts and seeds and some vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.
To some extent, the body can convert ALA into useable DHA and EPA, although this isn’t as efficient as receiving DHA and EPA straight from dietary sources. Even though it’s still unclear how effectively ALA converts to EPA and DHA or whether it has any advantages on its own, health experts like those at Harvard Medical School believe that all kinds of omega-3s are essential in the diet.
If fatty fish isn’t a regular component of your diet, fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, or a vegetarian substitute like algal oil may be beneficial. These omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help you get the omega-3 fatty acids you need to battle inflammation and improve your heart health.
6. Seeds and Nuts
Nuts and seeds are a great way to incorporate additional healthy fats into your diet, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. For starters, they’re simple to add to your diet; they’re also relatively inexpensive and portable, making them ideal for snacking. Aside from being a good source of healthy fats, nuts and seeds provide a long list of health advantages. They may help decrease poor LDL cholesterol and keep your arteries clean and your heart healthy if you consume them regularly. Like other omega-3-rich meals, nuts and seeds are considered brain foods, with certain varieties even being advised to aid enhance mood and combat depression.
The beauty of nuts and seeds is that there are so many varieties to choose from. With 5 grams of fat per serving, walnuts are an excellent high-fat alternative, and almonds are strong in vitamin E, but there are so many nuts to select from that you can’t go wrong. For example, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts all have unique nutritional profiles and are high in beneficial fats such as oleic acid. Nut butter is also a good option, especially with apple slices or carrot sticks. However, avoid nut butter with more than one component and avoid added sugars or fillers. Instead, consider roasting nuts and sprinkling them over salads for a quick dose of healthy fats.
Flaxseeds and chia seeds are two of the most popular seeds. They’re heavy in fiber and fat but low in carbohydrates. Seeds may be sprinkled over yogurt or added to smoothies, like in this keto smoothie recipe with avocado, chia seeds, and chocolate.
This one-of-a-kind snack ticks all the criteria. It’s a low-cost product high in protein and has a complete amino acid profile. Contrary to widespread thought for decades, eggs also do not elevate harmful cholesterol levels. Instead, eating eggs may help you decrease your cholesterol while increasing your heart health. Choline, which is contained in eggs, is also beneficial for maintaining our brains in good health.
Furthermore, increasing your egg intake may lower your risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of illnesses characterized by excess body fat, elevated blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes are all more probable if you have any of these illnesses. Adults over 40 who ate eggs daily had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, according to a 2016 research.
All of the choices might be perplexing when it comes to eggs. Some individuals recommend just eating egg whites, which is incorrect. Egg yolks are packed with nutrients and good fats, and you should eat them completely to get the full advantages of eggs. While egg carton promises may be deceptive, the rule of thumb is to choose free-range eggs, which have been demonstrated to be richer in good fats and omega-3s.
8. Organic, grass-fed beef
While many Americans prefer chicken over red meat, grass-fed beef may be an essential element of a well-balanced diet rich in healthy fats and protein, crucial for maintaining muscle mass and boosting satiety.
Choosing grass-fed beef over grain-fed meat is crucial because meat from cows that graze on grass rather than grains has several advantages. For example, it contains much higher omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which aids in the prevention of cancer and other ailments like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Because of its strong antioxidant levels and capacity to decrease bad cholesterol, CLA may help lessen the risk of heart disease. Grass-fed beef is also thought to be safer than grain-fed cattle since antibiotics and hormones are used far less often in grass-fed beef. Remember that you are what you eat, so pick the highest quality possible. Grass-fed beef is the clear victor for healthy fats and meat.
9. MCT Oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides)
MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are a form of saturated fat with a slew of health advantages. First, they’re quickly digested and transported to the liver, where they may kick-start your metabolism. Some people even put MCT oil in their morning coffee since it provides you more energy while also making you feel full, which is a wonderful double-whammy if you’re trying to lose weight.
MCT oil may be used in homemade salad dressings, smoothies, and shakes, or it can be substituted for around one-third of the coconut oil in baking recipes.
10. Dairy Products with a High-Fat Content
Full-fat dairy may be a fantastic source of heart-healthy fats if you can stomach it. Probiotic yogurt, for example, is a healthy fats staple because it includes helpful bacteria that may help optimize the health of your gut flora, resulting in improved general health. Increasing your probiotic consumption may help you maintain a healthy digestive system, enhance your immunity, and lower your cholesterol.
Raw milk is another popular source of heart-healthy lipids. Raw milk is obtained from grass-fed cows and has not been pasteurized or homogenized, preserving all of the milk’s vitamins, minerals, and natural enzymes. In addition, according to some research, raw milk has no added sugar or other chemicals and may even help prevent allergies.
Many individuals also ask whether cheese is harmful to their health. Not all cheese is made equal, much like other dairy products, but it may be a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet. Look for raw, less processed types that are obtained from grass-fed animals. Feta, goat, ricotta, and cottage cheese are just a handful of the best-for-you cheeses.
11. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is delicious, but it is also regarded as a superfood. It’s abundant in fat and antioxidants, both of which assist our systems in fighting disease-causing free radicals. In addition, dark chocolate flavanols help promote heart health by lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow to the heart and brain. You’re not alone if you’ve ever discovered that munching on a piece of chocolate helps you concentrate. It’s a brain meal that may genuinely help you increase your cognitive abilities.
However, not all dark chocolate is beneficial to your health. I suggest picking a bar of chocolate with at least 70% or higher cacao content. This reduces the amount of sugar in your diet while also providing a significant antioxidant boost. To get the most bang for your money, seek businesses that conduct fair trade and utilize organic cacao beans wherever feasible.
Fat is necessary for good health. It aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as maintaining the quality of your hair and skin. It also serves as the basis for cell membranes, generates energy, and acts as insulation to help control your body’s temperature.
It also has many additional beneficial health impacts. Eating excellent fats for weight reduction may be incredibly useful, even though it may seem contradictory. Fat is metabolized more slowly than carbs and protein, promoting satiety and enhancing food taste. In addition, fat has been shown in both human and animal studies to limit food intake later in the day, possibly enhancing weight reduction.
Anti-inflammatory characteristics are found in several forms of fat, which may help protect against chronic illness and enhance overall health. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, have been demonstrated to improve symptoms of autoimmune diseases such rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease by reducing inflammation. On the other hand, monounsaturated fatty acids may aid in the rise of good HDL cholesterol, the reduction of triglyceride levels, and the reduction of heart disease risk.
Furthermore, consuming a wide range of high-fat meals may help to improve brain function. Increasing your intake of healthy fat meals may help reduce inflammation and increase blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive performance. Medium-chain fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and unsaturated fats, in particular, are essential for brain function and development.
Traditional Medical Applications
Traditional types of medicine such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have long acknowledged the therapeutic effects of healthy fats.
Fats are utilized in Ayurveda to maintain good skin, encourage satiety, and relax nerves. Trans fats should be avoided on an Ayurvedic diet, and enough vegetable-based fats and omega-3 fatty acids should be consumed. Increase your saturated fat consumption in moderation by eating foods like ghee, coconut oil, and grass-fed beef.
Traditional Chinese medicine also employs high-fat, nutritional components to treat many diseases. Beef, for example, is supposed to enhance the qi, ease bloating and swelling, and maintain the spleen in good working order. On the other hand, avocados are said to calm the body, moisten the lungs, nourish the blood, and heal stomach ulcers.
Fats that are Good vs. Bad For You
A nutritious and well-balanced diet should contain an appropriate mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and modest levels of saturated fats from healthy sources. These fats have been linked to various health advantages and may help maintain and preserve your health by lowering your risk of chronic illness.
While the answer to the question “Is saturated fat bad?” is still up for dispute, there’s no denying that trans fats should be avoided at all costs. Trans fats are often added to meals via a process known as hydrogenation, which is used to improve the taste and texture of foods like vegetable oils while also increasing their shelf life.
Highly processed fatty meals, including crackers, cakes, donuts, and pastries, are rich in trans fats. Studies reveal that consuming this toxic form of fat is bad for your health; one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that every 2% increase in trans fat calories ingested substantially quadrupled the risk of coronary heart disease.
Carbs vs. Fats
Carbohydrates are one of the three primary macronutrients in the diet, along with fat and protein. They may be found in various meals, although they are most prevalent in carbohydrates, grains, and sugary sweets.
Carbohydrates have a lower calorie content than fat. Carbohydrates provide just four calories per gram, compared to nine calories per gram for fat. However, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily healthier for your health – or your waistline.
In truth, although whole-grain, fiber-rich carbs may be helpful, refined carbohydrates found in candy, white bread, baked goods, and sweets provide nothing in the way of nourishment other than added calories and sugar. In addition, refined carb intake was connected to a greater risk of coronary heart disease in a research published in the American College of Cardiology Journal. In contrast, whole grains and polyunsaturated fats were linked to a reduced risk.
Choosing nutrient-dense carbs over fried meals and processed garbage is crucial, just as it is when choosing healthy fat sources to include in your diet. Quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, and oats are all gluten-free grains to choose from. In addition, incorporate a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and legumes into your daily diet. Finally, to assist in enhancing the quality of your diet, limit your consumption of overly processed and refined carbohydrates.
According to most authorities, fat should account for at least 20–30% of total calories; however, this number varies widely. When it comes to our ketogenic diet, food alternatives, for example, heart-healthy fats, should account for 40–75 percent of total calories ingested.
Unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil should make up the bulk of your fat consumption. So, how much saturated fat should you consume every day? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the World Health Organization, saturated fat consumption should be limited to less than 10% of daily calories. So, instead of fried meals or processed meats loaded with chemicals and dangerous elements, go for healthy sources of saturated fat like grass-fed beef, coconut oil, and MCT oil.
Do you want to enhance your health by eating more healthy fats? There are several healthy fat diet plans available, but the simplest way to get started is to just include a few nutritious foods into the meals you regularly consume. For example, replace low-fat yogurt with full-fat yogurt, add nuts and seeds to your breakfast, salads, and smoothies, and drizzle olive oil over roasted vegetables and side dishes for a boost of healthy fats.
You may also try out new recipes and cuisines that include foods rich in healthful saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. For example, a nutritious lunch centered on products like eggs, wild-caught salmon, or grass-fed beef will guarantee you receive the heart-healthy fats you need, as well as a protein boost to balance them out.
Since the 1950s, when researcher Ancel Keys did a study comparing the food patterns of seven different nations with their relative rates of heart disease, dietary fat has been in the spotlight. He discovered that greater blood cholesterol levels were linked to a higher risk of heart disease at the end of the trial and that a larger diet of saturated fat-rich meals was to blame.
Despite the lack of data establishing a clear relationship between saturated fat and heart disease, groups like the American Heart Association started pushing people to cut down on saturated fat intake to enhance heart health after the landmark Seven Countries Study. Unfortunately, this not only confused consumers about the distinctions between saturated and unsaturated fat, but it also led to many individuals associating total fat consumption with weight gain and cardiac disease.
Researchers have been learning more about the complicated ways fat may affect health in recent years. Different forms of fat have been demonstrated to have different effects on health and illness, and new advantages linked with healthy fats are continuously being discovered, ranging from decreased inflammation to improved brain function and beyond.
Side Effects and Risks
While fat is a crucial element of a healthy diet, bear in mind that most high-fat meals are also rich in calories. When increasing your consumption of good fats, it’s vital to make dietary adjustments to compensate, such as cutting down on refined carbohydrates or sweets. Adding high-fat, high-calorie items to your diet without adopting a few basic dietary changes may contribute to weight gain.
Furthermore, including a variety of healthy fats in your diet is just one part of the jigsaw when it comes to overall health. To ensure you’re achieving your nutritional requirements, include enough protein sources as well as a wide range of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in your diet. Finally, combine a well-balanced diet with regular physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle for optimal results.
- What do you mean by “good fats”? While fat is necessary for your body to operate and flourish, not all fats are the same. Healthy fats may help avoid chronic illness and promote improved health by coming from unprocessed whole meals.
- Saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and monounsaturated fatty acids are among the several forms of fat.
- The key differences between saturated and unsaturated fat are the number of double bonds in each kind of fat and the impact on cholesterol levels and heart health. On the other hand, both may be part of a balanced, nutritious diet.
- Fats have been linked to various health benefits, including improved heart health, improved cognitive function, increased satiety, and enhanced nutrient absorption.
- Avocados, eggs, dark chocolate, grass-fed beef, full-fat dairy, fatty fish, MCT oil, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter/ghee are just a few examples of good fats.
- To improve your health, eat various heart-healthy fats and combine them with a well-balanced diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of fats should be avoided for good health?
A: Foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol can reduce your levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
What is the healthiest fat for the human body?
A: The healthiest fat is saturated fat, along with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Which fats are healthy and which ones are unhealthy?
A: Some fats are healthy, and others are unhealthy. For example, olive oil is good fat, but butter or coconut oil can be harmful.
- top 20 healthy fats
- where do healthy fats go in your body
- good fats for weight loss
- types of fats in the body
- trans-fat vs. saturated fat
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