It wasn’t too long ago that “fat free” was considered synonymous with healthy, a trend that had many of us consuming a hefty amount of low-fat–and consequently high-sugar–products. If you’ve ever endured a diet like this, you likely felt constantly hungry, lethargic, and unsatisfied. Needless to say, the fat-free health philosophy was an unfortunate misconception because our bodies actually require a certain amount and type of fat in order to function properly. Yep, you read that right–indulging in a bit of healthy fat each day is a healthy, necessary habit to get into.
The Bad: Trans Fats
Like night and day, light and darkness, or ying and yang, there are good fats and bad fats. Bad fats, like trans fats, should be avoided whenever possible. Trans fat is often listed as “partially hydrogenated oil”, and is simply bad news. You’ll find it in processed baked goods, margarine, microwave popcorn, doughnuts, and more. It’s been linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, so without further ado, you should really stop eating it. It’s satisfying yes, but it clogs your arteries, and can seriously jeopardize your health if you consume it in excess. I’m here to tell you that fat can improve your health, yes, but don’t be the chump who doesn’t know the difference between the good and the bad stuff.
The Good: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
The term “healthy fats” typically refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Fats that fall into this category are able to reduce LDL cholesterol (the kind that clogs your arteries), have many heart healthy benefits, and can also decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Monounsaturated fats are the healthiest you’ll come by, and can be found in olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, avocados, almonds, cashews, and pecans,. These fats are anti-inflammatory, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and are full of healthy nutrients including Vitamin E.
Many foods that contain polyunsaturated fats can also be very healthy. The particular types you should be looking for are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are both essential fatty acids that we need (hence, essential), for functions like brain and cell growth. Omega-3s can be found in fish, algae, nuts, and seeds. Omega 6s, which can be found in poultry, eggs, nuts, whole-grain breads, grape seed oil, and more, work in conjunction with omega 3s to lower LDL cholesterol. However research suggests that eating more omega-6 than omega-3 can contribute to inflammation and weight gain, so you’ll want to make sure you’re always taking in more omega-3s.
Which foods should you eat?
Healthy fats exist, and you absolutely need ‘em. In fact, incorporating the right amount of healthy fats might actually help you shed some unwanted weight (if that’s an objective of yours).
So now that you know that healthy fats are actually an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, you’re probably wondering where and how you can use them. Here are some of our favourite healthy fatty foods to work in, as well as some simple, healthy recipe ideas to help feed your inspiration. Remember, all of these foods are rich, but they’re not simply empty calories. The key is to eat in moderation, and continue on with a balanced diet, free of processed products, and full of fresh, whole foods.
Avocados – Chocolate, Avocado, and Coconut Smoothie
Walnuts – Orange Walnut Chard Salad
Almonds – Barley and Almond Milk Porridge
Nut and Seed Butters – Banana Almond Smoothie
Olives – Tomato Olive Couscous Salad
Tuna – Toasted Sesame Tuna Burgers
Edamame – Spiced Edamame
Chia Seeds – Chia Hemp Breakfast Smoothie
70% or Higher Cocoa Content Dark Chocolate – We’ll take ours straight up!
What are your favourite healthy fats to indulge in? We’re always on the hunt for new, well balanced, and healthy recipes to share!