Different foods and drinks contain different nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Some foods or drinks contain a large amount of one nutrient than the other. “Fat” used to be a bad word in nutrition. Several years ago, your doctor might have recommended that you limit or avoid fat in your diet to prevent weight gain and health problems. Now doctors know that all fats aren’t bad. In fact, some fats lower your cholesterol level and help keep you healthy. Dietary fat can be classified into four groups. These are:
Saturated Fats: These linked to increasing levels of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease. Most commonly – but not exclusively – found in significant amounts in animal products such as the fats in red meats, beef, pork, and chicken. Leaner animal products, such as chicken breast or pork loin, often have less saturated fat. These fats are solid at room temperature.
Unsaturated Fats (poly and mono): They are usually liquid at room temperature but will begin to thicken when chilled. They have less of an effect on elevating blood cholesterol levels. However, it doesn’t mean you can overeat them. Fats are still fats and you want a low total fat intake as well. These come from plant sources such as olives, nuts, or seeds but can also be present in fish.
Trans Fats: These are also called trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans fatty acids. There are two types of this fat; natural ones and artificial ones. The naturally occurring ones are found in small amounts in some animal products such as meat, whole milk, and milk products however, there’s not enough research out there to determine the impact these types of trans fats have on your health, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
The artificial trans fat is considered by many doctors to be the worst type of fat you can eat why is it so? well, it spike your LDL cholesterol, which clogs your arteries. It has been linked to increasing the risk of coronary artery disease. You can check the food label to find out if trans fat is in your food choices. Trans fat can often be found in margarine, snack food, most cakes, icing etc.
The phrase “healthy fat” usually refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. So what makes them healthy? Well, they help reduce LDL cholesterol or “bad” Cholesterol, the kind that clogs your arteries. Research (1) also shows they can benefit insulin and blood sugar levels, decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. According to Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior dietician at UCLA Medical Center and adjunct assistant professor at the Fielding School of Public Health, Monounsaturated fats are among the healthiest of all fats. “These are anti-inflammatory, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and are full of healthy nutrients.” Read on and find out these healthy fats that are good for you.
Seeds And Nuts
Sunflower seeds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, almonds, hazelnuts flax (grind these in a coffee grinder to release nutrients) and chia seeds are all excellent, heart-healthy options to add to your diet. They are rich in monounsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids that suppress inflammation and are a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, iron, and magnesium (a mineral that most people don’t get enough of.) Add to a your salads or smoothies for a healthy,nutritious boost.
Obviously but avocados used to be shunned because of their high fat content, now we know that the monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) in avocados is healthy. Avocados may also help you feel full, according to a small study published in the Journal of Nutrition (2). Avocados are about 77% fat, by calories, making them even higher in fat than most animal foods. Even though they are high in fat and calories, another study shows that people who eat avocados tend to weigh less and have less belly fat than those who don’t (3). They are also an excellent source of potassium and fiber, and have been shown to have major benefits for cardiovascular health.
Good news for chocoholics! Yes, chocolate is healthy, given that you eat the right kind of chocolate. By eating chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, you can actually reap the amazing health benefits it offers. The cocoa bean contains all the nutrients dark chocolate has to offer, which include vitamins A, B, and E, along with calcium, iron, and potassium. The fat found in the cocoa butter used to make chocolate is comprised of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fat similar to what you’d find in avocados and olive oil. Since it is easy to overeat chocolate, so you need to watch your portion sizes hence portion control is absolutely necessary when it comes to dark chocolate.
Coconut Oil is high in saturated fat. The main type of saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It is also unique from other sources of saturated fats because it contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are metabolized differently (they go straight from the liver to the digestive tract and can then be used as a quick source of energy rather than getting stored.) Coconut oil can also increase your good cholesterol levels, or HDLs, and it’s great for cooking with high temperatures.
The current dietary recommendations are to include fish in your meals at least twice per week. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids but if salmon is not your thing, you can get the same omega-3 fat benefits from other cold-water fish like tuna, sardines, lake trout and mackerel. Salmon is an excellent source of vitamin A and protein. These fatty fishes not only makes you feel full, they help power your brain too.
Olive oil is the original healthy fat. The fruit itself has tons of antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The healthy monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) can increase good cholesterol and reduce blood pressure, too. Olive oil is available as extra-virgin, virgin, and just plain olive oil. Extra-virgin comes from the first press of olives, and is typically the most expensive. It has a stronger flavor and more green color. It is good for dressings or to dip bread because it has a lower smoke point. Similarly, virgin olive oil is made from pressing already crushed olives and is slightly more acidic. Plain olive oil has a higher smoke point that virgin and extra-virgin and can be used for cooking and baking too. It has a lighter color and a milder flavor. Don’t overeat it, because all fats are relatively high in calories and 1 tablespoon of olive oil has about 120 calories.
Cheese is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and minerals, but it may even be beneficial for appetite control. Aged cheeses like Parmesan are a good source of probiotics, which promote healthy digestion and weight loss. Two tablespoons of grated Parmesan contain about 45 calories, 2 grams fat, and 2 grams saturated fat. One of the healthiest ways to get your cheese fix: As a garnish on a salad. It adds flavor to your bowl, and the fat helps you absorb the nutrients in the veggies. Make sure to pay attention to serving sizes and adjust as needed depending on your daily calorie goals since it is still a high-fat food.