What Are Healthy Fats, Anyway?
Evan Jensen | My Body
How about getting the green light to eat more fat? That might sound a little crazy when obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions linked to poor eating habits are at an all-time high, but the truth is, not all fats are bad.
Healthy fats found in fish, nuts and seeds, avocadoes, and healthy oils are good for you. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids in these foods help support nerve activity, absorption of vitamins from food, a healthy immune system, brain function, and prevention of many chronic diseases. The fats you want to avoid are saturated fats found in red meats, processed meals, fried food, cookies, cakes and crackers. Saturated fats increase bad cholesterol levels that can block your arteries and increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Here are a couple ways to get more of those healthy fats into your life.
Eat Fish Twice a Week
In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that people who ate fish high in omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced their risk for a heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and bluefish. Check out the 10 healthiest fish to include in your diet.
Add More Nuts and Seeds to Your Diet
Nuts and seeds are also a great source of healthy fats. Aim to eat two servings per day, according to the American Dietetic Association. In a Harvard University study, researchers found that eating nuts daily reduced the risk for early death by 20 percent. It’s easier to add nuts and seeds to your diet than you might think. Add almonds, walnuts, flaxseed or pecans to yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on a salad, or just eat a handful as a snack.
But, aren’t nuts high in calories? In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that eating nuts at least twice a week actually helped people lose weight. Researchers believe protein in nuts helps satisfy hunger while healthy fats in nuts help increase metabolism. Check out the 7 Healthiest Nuts recommended by the Harvard School of Public Health.
Other Healthy Fat Food Sources
Fish, nuts, and seeds are by far the best sources of healthy fats, but they’re not the only ones. Extra-virgin olive oil used in cooking and salad dressings contains healthy fats. Legumes or beans also contain healthy fats. Technically, peanuts are a legume, along with kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, and many others. Plus, don’t forget the amazing avocado; whip up a tasty Black Bean Taco Salad and some homemade guacamole for a winning, good fat combo.
Eat more healthy fats, and read food labels to avoid or limit saturated fats. Adding more healthy fats to your diet will protect your heart, improve your health, and help you live longer.
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