Whether you’re trying to lose those extra pounds or trying to gain some, healthy fats are an important part of balanced nutrition. But as soon as we hear about fat laden foods, all we think of is that it will make us put on weight, hence we try to steer clear of all the fat in our diet without realising the harm it will do to our bodies. Of course, if you don’t take it in limit, it’s surely going to be bad for you but eating healthy fats in moderation is not only good but also essential for the body. But before going into Why and How of it, let’s go back to our Science textbooks and know what fats are all about:
What are fats and why do we need them?
Fats are organic molecules made up of carbon and hydrogen elements joined together in long chains called hydrocarbons. In other words, Fat is one of the three main macronutrients required by our body along with carbohydrate and protein that supply calories. Our bodies require a moderate amount of healthy fats to function properly and help prevent diseases.
- Fat is a fuel source and the major storage form of energy in the body
- Fats act as an insulator, helping us to maintain the correct body temperature
- Fat enables our bodies to process vitamins A, D, E and K which are vital to good health
- Fats also support metabolism, cell signalling, tissue health, immunity and hormonal balance
However, too much fat especially the unhealthy ones available in all the junk and processed foods, can cause serious health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and various heart diseases.
How much fat should we eat?
According to health experts, an average adult should consume 30% fat, 30% protein and 40% carbohydrate. This 30% fat has to come from healthy sources else it will do more harm than good. Not all fats are created equal but the ones discussed below have a number of health benefits. From lowering bad cholesterol and helping to shed excess weight to giving you shiny hair, skin and nails, your body will reap the benefits of these healthy fats.
Here’s a list of food items that contain healthy fats that won’t make you fat, provided you eat them in moderation:
Sources of Healthy Fat
You need to include this nutritious superfood right away. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and fibre. Not only this, they are also one of the best sources of potassium; even more than bananas. Moreover, the good news is that even though they are high in fat and calories, studies have shown that people who eat avocados tend to weigh less and have less belly fat than their counterparts!
- Nuts and Nut Butter
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans contain healthy fat for the body and are rich sources of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, proteins and fibre. They are also high in various essential vitamins and minerals. Plus they also help regulate blood sugar and lower the risk of heart diseases. Eating one serving of nuts a day, almonds and walnuts, in particular, has been shown to play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s, boosting memory and reducing depression.
Little pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds pack a big punch. They contain omegas, protein and fibre. They have good fats that can lower cholesterol. They are known to be anti-inflammatory as well.
- Olive Oil
Other than being a healthy fat option, olive oil is known to lower heart disease, regulate insulin level and is anti-inflammatory too. Go for the Extra Virgin olive oil in place of the regular one.
Coconut is another source of healthy fat that kills hunger and known to boost brain function. It increases good cholesterol and promotes heart health. Moreover, coconut oil is also helpful in normalising thyroid levels and prevents Alzheimer’s. When choosing a coconut oil, it’s better to go for extra virgin variety as refined or processed oils can eliminate many of its health benefits.
- Fatty Fish
Fish like salmons, sardines are rich in heart-healthy omega 3’s which many people are deficient in these days. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish a week. If you don’t eat fish, you can go for fish oil as a supplement. Cod liver oil is a good option plus it contains plenty of vitamin D as well!
- Whole Eggs
Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. A large egg has around 5 gms of fat, mostly healthy fat and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Not only this despite being high in fat, eggs also aid in weight loss if taken systematically.
- Dark Chocolate
Now, this is a healthy high-fat food that tastes incredible too. Dark chocolate is also a good source of fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and is loaded with antioxidants. However, make sure to eat high-quality dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa.
Other than being a healthy fat source, full-fat yoghurt has numerous other health benefits. It is abundant in healthy, probiotic bacteria which is essential for your digestive health and keeps gut issues in control.
- Butter and Ghee
Both butter and ghee are rich in fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals including selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Moderate amounts of butter and ghee help regulate brain function, skin health and also strengthen bones. Look for organic and grass-fed options while buying these.
However, it is smart to watch how much fat goes inside your body—even if it is good fat. And just in case some day you load yourself with fat-laden foods, make sure to move your body and do some exercise to burn the excess!