There is a negative connotation when we hear the word fat. We often associate fats in our food with obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and even breast cancer. However, not all fats are bad. There are good fats that are necessary to maintain our overall health. It's just a matter of identifying what's good and what's bad for our body.
Fat can be found in both plant based and animals based foods and there are four major types - monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are considered as the "good fats." They are known to improve one's blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar. Some saturated fats are good (such as coconut oil) and others may need to be consumed in moderation as they may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Trans fats are considered the "bad fats." These are often found in packaged foods like chips and fast food. These fats should be avoided because the body will have a hard time breaking them down and therefore this could lead to formation of plaques that are linked to heart diseases or diabetes.
The Good Fats
Including healthy fats in our diet is essential. That's because fat play a big role in some of our body functions. For example, some vitamins need fats in order for them to be absorbed and stored in our body. Vitamins A, D, E and K are known as fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin A helps promote good vision, Vitamin D is needed in the body's ability to absorb calcium, Vitamin E neutralizes the free radicals and Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting. If you are unable to meet your body’s daily fat intake requirement, then the body may not be able to fully absorb these vitamins. Good fats are also a good source of energy. They are high in calories so there is a need for us to stay within the recommended daily amount. Some of these fats are not used right away and therefore stored in the adipose tissues. These help in sustaining the body's temperature.
Omega-3 fatty acids are superfats. They have a vital role in a person's emotional health and cognitive functions. They can protect you against memory loss and help you in balancing your mood so the symptoms of depression is reduced. Omega-3’s can also promote skin health and a healthy pregnancy.
Healthy Foods with Healthy Fats
Now that we all know that not all fats are bad, here are examples of foods where you can get the good fats from.
Avocados are considered as one of the healthiest fruit available. Aside from the fact they taste great, they are also rich in monounsaturated fats They are also a great source of Vitamin E, folate and protein.
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts or cashews are a healthy option if you need something to snack on. Just like avocados, nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats that can improve your cholesterol levels and lower the risk of developing heart diseases.
3. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale contain omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, both of these vegetables have antioxidant nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. The benefits that you can get from these two leafy greens are endless. Spinach contains Vitamin C and K and Kale's glucosinolates can help prevent cancer.
Vegetables are not the only source of Omega-3s. You can also get your Omega-3s from fish. Fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines are all great options.
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains high levels of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It protects your cells from getting damaged and reduces the risk of heart attack and heart disease. Be sure to buy good quality olive oils.
Have you tried including healthy fats into your diet? Or experimented with removing unhealthy fats from your diet? We would love to hear from you. Let us know your experiences in the comments below.
After her second child Shannon was left with large stretch marks and is now passionate about helping others prevent and help reduce their own stretch marks. Currently studying to be a health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She can be found at www.skinhealthbody.com