Including healthful fats in a meal also creates a sense of fullness, slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, and adds flavor to food.
The most healthful fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
12 healthful high-fat foods
Read on to discover the best sources of these fats and learn the difference between healthful and unhealthful fats.
One 201 gram (g) avocado contains approximately 29 grams (g) of fat and 322 calories. It is high in a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid, which is believed to provide several health benefits.
Research suggests that oleic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory and may play a role in cancer prevention. Studies on animals indicate that avocado oil protects against heart disease and diabetes.
Avocados are high in fiber, with one fruit providing 13.5 g of the recommended 25 grams for females and 38 grams for males per day. Avocados also contain a substance called lutein, which may be necessary for eye health and are a rich source of potassium.
How can I add avocado to my diet?
- Use avocado in salads or to replace less healthful saturated fats, such as mayonnaise and butter.
2. Chia seeds
Although they are small in size, chia seeds are rich in several nutrients. One ounce (oz) of the seeds contains 8.71 g of fat, much of which is made up of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are, in fact, one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3.
Omega-3 can relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and reduce triglycerides in the blood, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
A 2014 study suggests that chia seed flour can lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Chia seeds also provide antioxidants, fiber, protein, iron, and calcium.
How can I add chia seeds to my diet?
- Use chia seeds in smoothies, soak them overnight for a ready-made breakfast, or mix them with water to make a vegan egg-replacement in cooking.
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, black olives provide 6.67 g of fat per 100 g, mainly monounsaturated, along with 13.3 g of fiber.
Recent research reports that a compound in olives called oleuropein may help prevent diabetes. Researchers found that Oleuropein helped the body secrete more insulin, while also purifying a molecule called amylin that contributes to diabetes development.
Olives can be high in sodium, though, so 5 large or 10 small olives are considered a standard portion.
How can I add olives to my diet?
- Olives are extremely versatile — people can eat them as a snack, make them into a tapenade, or toss them into whole grain and pasta dishes.
10. Olive oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is full of monounsaturated fats that are good for heart health. It also contains vitamin E, vitamin K, and potent antioxidants. Extra-virgin olive oil has associations with a lower risk of heart disease and death in those with a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
How can I add olive oil to my diet?
- Use olive oil regularly, but sparingly, in cooking and dressings — a single tablespoon contains 14 g of fat and 120 calories.
Tofu is a complete plant protein and a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A 100 g serving of firm tofu provides just over 4 g of fat. This amount of tofu also provides one-quarter of a person’s daily calcium intake, along with 11 g of protein.
How can I add tofu to my diet?
- Replace red meat with tofu in many meals to reduce saturated fat intake. Also, use tofu to increase the protein content of vegetarian stir-fries and curries.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are healthful fats that might:
- benefit the heart
- lower LDL cholesterol
- improve insulin levels
- improve blood glucose levels
MUFAs and PUFAs also fight inflammation.
The two most well-known PUFAs are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are essential fats that people must get from the food they eat because the body is unable to make them. Studies have linked omega-3 fats to many health benefits, especially the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
As a general rule of thumb, healthful fats — such as olive oil — are liquid at room temperature.
Saturated fats and trans fats, on the other hand, are considered unhealthful fats. Foods rich in these substances, such and butter and lard, are often solid at room temperature.
Older research reported that saturated fat had a negative impact on cholesterol levels and heart health, but newer studies suggest it is not as bad as once thought. However, most health organizations still recommend limiting saturated fat in the diet and replacing them with MUFAs and PUFAs.
Always avoid trans fats. Artificial trans fats, listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oils, are extremely unhealthful. They trigger inflammation that may increase the risk of:
- heart disease
- many other health conditions.
Even just 2 percent of calories from trans fats daily can increase the risk of heart disease by 23 percent.
The following foods contain trans fats:
- fried foods
- frozen foods, such as pizzas and pies
- baked goods
Fat is one of the three essential macronutrients the body needs, along with carbohydrates and protein. A balanced diet should include healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Some of the best sources of these fatty acids include avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. People should also be sure to limit the amount of saturated fat in the diet and avoid even small intakes of trans fats.
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