Fat has a bad reputation, but lately the health world is learning to love fatty foods in moderation. The fact is, fat isn’t a bad thing. Not even close! You need the stuff to survive and maintain a healthy diet. The trick, though, is that not all fats are created equal. Some fats, like the notorious saturated fats, are unhealthy. Others, like monounsaturated fat, are very, very healthy. Read on for some of the foods rich in healthy fats.
Flaxseeds are one of the healthiest vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids on the planet. They are also one of the best sources of a variety of antioxidants, including lignans, which helps with inflammation and may even lower your risk of breast cancer. Flaxseeds contain more of the polyphenol antioxidant than fresh berries — the food famous for them. Add flaxseeds to your bread, muffin and cookie recipes, sprinkle on top of toast and cereal, and toss some into your smoothies and salads.
Like other nuts, walnuts are rich in healthy fats like monounsaturated fats and are even a great vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids. And, these fats don’t have to equal extra flab on your body: walnuts have actually been shown to reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome if eaten daily, and even help treat type 2 diabetes.
- Olive Oil.
There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet is so healthy, and much of that has to do with one of the region’s biggest staples, olive oil. Most of the fat found in olive oil is oleic acid, an ultra-healthy monounsaturated fat. Olive oil contains higher percentage of the stuff than any other plant-based oil.
Tofu contains over 1/4 of your daily requirements for omega-3 fatty acids, and is low in unhealthy saturated fat. But the benefits of tofu have more to do with what it tends to replace — animal products. Meat, dairy and eggs are notoriously high in unhealthy fats; by comparison, tofu is quite low.
Avocados are famously loaded with fat — the good kind! Rich in monounsaturated fat, and with some omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids thrown in there, too, avocados can help regulate and improve the function of your cardiovascular system. Avocados are also a good source of cartenoids, which help your eyes and prevent diseases. The fat in this fruit actually helps your body absorb this essential nutrient better.
- Chia Seeds.
Chi-chi-chi-chia seeds are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, protein and antioxidants — including the ever-elusive omega-3 fatty acids.
- Peanut Butter.
Peanuts and peanut butter contain plenty of monounsaturated fat, the healthy fat that has been linked in several comprehensive studies to a decreased risk for heart disease. Peanut butter is a great snack with fresh fruits and veggies, on toast, and more.
Like olive oil, olives have plenty of healthy oleic acid, the monounsaturated fatty acid that promotes heart health and reduces blood pressure. Olives also contain a rich variety of antioxidants, including some that aren’t found in any other common food. One such antioxidant is hydroxytyrosol, which has been shown to help protect the brain from damage. This is particularly important for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It’s speculated that the low rates of Alzheimer’s among people in the Mediterranean region is correlated to olive oil consumption.