Over the recent years, the term “healthy fats” has started sounding oxymoronic. From everything being no-fat to low-fat, we’re taught to believe that fat is the enemy and a low-fat diet is key to achieving the body you want.
It all started in the 1960’s, after US President Eisenhower’s heart attack. The American heart association advised people to reduce their fat intake, and food guidelines to eat less saturated fat and more carbohydrates were advocated. It was then the war against fat had begun.
But was this war justified? Not all fats are the same. Yes, trans fats and saturated fats are bad and can wreck your diet. But the counterpart – healthy fats, are vital for your health. So the question remains, does eating fat make you fat? Read on.
Healthy fats are an important and necessary part of our diet. From omega-3 fatty acids to unsaturated fats, healthy fats need to be consumed on a daily basis to reduce heart diseases, stroke and help balance your mood.
Eating healthy fats won’t make you fat. Obesity is much more complicated than eating a single nutrient; it’s a combination of sugar, carbohydrates and having a high-calorie, low-exercise diet. Nutrition experts recommend that 20-30% of your daily calorie intake come from healthy fats and not more than 10% come from saturated fats. To help you shed excess weight and maintain cholesterol levels, here’s a list of the good fats that you should eat.
Good fats for your body
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the most versatile oils on the planet. From conditioning your hair to moisturizing your body, is there anything coconut oil cannot do? The health benefits are numerous. So naturally incorporating it in your diet only makes sense. One of the best things about coconut oil is its rich in fatty acids making it easy to digest and is not stored as fat but used as immediate energy.
Pros: Increases good cholesterol and promotes cardiac health; Improves brain function.
Cons: Processed coconut oil eliminates most health benefits; opt for extra virgin coconut oil.
Unless you’re living under a rock, Avocados are all the trend right now. From smoothies to salads, avocados are used everywhere and for good reason. Loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, and vitamins, avocados are loaded with fiber and can help reduce cholesterol and sugar levels.
Pros: Rich in monounsaturated fats; Packed with vitamin e, fiber, and protein.
Cons: High in calories.
3. Butter and Ghee
When I say butter, I’m not talking about butter-like substances (margarine), I mean butter made from cow’s milk that’s packed with nutrients you need in your diet. Over the years, along with fat, butter also has received a bad rapport. We’ve been told and re-told to lose weight and get fit –“STOP EATING BUTTER”!
Butter is rich in minerals, vitamins and the good guy’s omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids aren’t produced naturally by the human body, but must be derived from food sources to promote skin health and brain function. Ghee, the clarified form of butter, helps strengthen bones and improve digestion.
Pros: Rich in antioxidants; Source of omega – 3 and omega – 6 fatty acids; Ghee promotes digestion.
Cons: High in calories; Excess consumption can promote weight gain.
4. Olive oil
Two peas in a pod – Olive oil and coconut oil, incredibly versatile and used in almost everything. From food to cosmetics and soaps, olive oil is high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats that protect cells from damage improves cognitive function and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Use it as a dressing on salads or to moisturize your hair and skin, you can’t go wrong with it!
Pros: Anti-inflammatory properties; Reduces risk of heart diseases.
Cons: Extra- virgin oil is expensive; cannot be used to fry/ cook.
5. Dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate! Who doesn’t love chocolate, eaten on its own or in desserts; there are limitless possible ways to eat chocolate and all of them delicious! But not all chocolates are good for your health. Dark chocolate, in specific, is rich in antioxidants and when eaten daily in limited quantity is good for your health. High in iron, it can lower cholesterol and heart diseases. So grab a bar of dark chocolate and munch away guilt-free!
Note: While buying dark chocolate choose for 70% cocoa.
Pros: Rich in antioxidants; reduces heart diseases.
Cons: Contains sugar; Chocolate with milk has higher saturated fat content; opt for dairy-free dark chocolate.
6. Fatty fish
While fish may not be a part of every Indian’s diet, fish varieties like salmon, trout, and mackerel are high in protein and are loaded with nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish on a regular basis can lower heart diseases, strokes and is important for growth development. Several studies show that eating fish can boost brain development and help to ease depression.
Note: If you can’t eat fish, try taking a cod fish liver oil supplement.
Pros: Reduces heart diseases; improves growth.
Cons: Expensive; Over-farming of fish can reduce and endanger fish population.
Nuts, though small in size, are packed with heart-healthy fats, nutrients and vitamins. Though high in calories, when eaten in moderation, they can be non-fattening. An average of 30g per day can keep you healthy, strong and disease free. Time to go nuts for nuts!
Pros: Loaded with vitamins and minerals; reduces diseases.
Cons: High in calories.