You’ve probably heard about “healthy fats” by now. Olive oil, avocado, nuts – they’re full of the good stuff. But what are those fats, and how can you incorporate them into your diet? This article will introduce you to the right kinds of fats, in addition to some yummy meals that include these nutrients.
What fats do you want?
The best fats have monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and omega-3s. They provide antioxidants, help absorb vital nutrients, and can prevent a number of diseases. Most MUFAs are liquid at room temperature, like olive or vegetable oil, and can replace less-healthy saturated fats, which are often solid, like butter or red meat. Other MUFAs include avocado, seeds, and olives.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) also fall in the “healthy” category of fats. PUFAs can be found in fish and seafood, and include both omega-3s and omega-6s. These fatty acids are considered “essential” because human bodies cannot produce them on our own, so they must be consumed through food. However, they should be consumed less frequently than MUFAs.
What fats should you limit?
Saturated fatty acids are usually solid and are found in many meat and dairy products, like red meat or butter. Some vegetable oils, like palm oil or coconut oil, also contain saturated fatty acids. Eaten excessively, saturated fats can cause LDL cholesterol. LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol, and can lead to heart problems.
Trans fatty acids are liquid vegetable oils (also known as “partially hydrogenated oils”). Like saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids raise LDL cholesterol; they also lower HDL “good” cholesterol. They may also increase risk of diabetes.
What foods include the good fats?
Healthy Fat Meals
These complete meals will give you just the right dose of healthy fat your body needs, and help you figure out how to incorporate fats into your regular meals. For more information about fats in specific cooking oils, check out Noom’s article here.
Salmon Burgers with Sriracha Mayo (via Skinny Taste)
These burgers (seen in image above) have the ideal dose of fat in a meal: 15 grams. They’re packed with flavor AND have loads of protein. Salmon is high in omega-3s. It is ideal to consume wild salmon, due to pesticide concerns in farmed salmon, but having farmed salmon occasionally won’t hurt you.
Fudgy Avocado Brownies (via Not So Desperate Housewife)
Avocado in…dessert? You bet! The texture of avocado makes it a great butter substitute, replacing butter’s saturated fats with healthier MUFAs.
Homemade Salad Dressing (via Simple Bites)
This list of easy homemade salad dressings is not just great for adding the MUFAs of olive oil to a meal – it also includes a helpful guide to creating your own dressings.
Southwest Loaded Sweet Potato Fries (via Naturally Ella)
This decadent (but still healthy!) meals tosses the fries in coconut oil, adding a unique, nutty flavor to your favorite side.