6 High-Fat Foods That Are Actually Great For Your Health
We’ve been told for a long time that fats are bad for us—that they raise cholesterol levels and cause heart disease. The demonizing of high-fat foods led to decades of low-fat, high-carb diets created to keep us away from foods that are actually good for us. Healthy fats should be a part of your daily diet.
More recently, research shows that high-carb diets are not as healthy as we believed, and that fats are essential for our health—especially for the optimal functioning of the brain and heart. Studies show there are actually a number of adverse health consequences of a high-carb, low-fat diet.
For optimal health, you need to consume an adequate amount of carbohydrates, fats, and protein in the right proportions. According to proponents of the high-fat, low-carb diet:
• 75 to 85 percent of your total calories should come from healthy fats.
• 8 to 15 percent should come from healthy, high-fibre carbs like whole grains, veggies, and fruit.
• 7 to 10 percent of your calories should come from protein such as high-quality grass-fed meats, eggs, yogurt, and tofu.
Healthy Fats for Your Body
Whole, high-fat foods are rich in nutrients, and their health benefits range from cardiovascular health to improved cognitive function. The main principle of a high-fat diet is that healthy fats should be the cornerstone of our diet—as the large majority of fats we consume come from unhealthy, processed foods.
While most fruits contain carbohydrates, avocados are a rich source of healthy fats. This is what sets avocados apart from other fruits.
Avocados contain roughly 77 per cent fat from calories. This gives avocados a greater fat content than most animal products.
But the fat in avocados is the good kind of fat. Avocados are rich in a monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid. Oleic acid is also the main type of fat in olive oil. Research shows avocados can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
Avocados are rich in other nutrients, too. Avocados, like bananas, are a great source of potassium in the diet. In fact, they contain 40 per cent more potassium in bananas. They’re a good source of fibre and other essential nutrients. Although avocados are high in fat and calories, and should be consumed in moderation, studies show that people who eat avocados weigh less than people who don’t.
2. Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats are healthy fats that offer many benefits for people of all ages. The three types of omega-3 fats are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The best source of DHA and EPA are fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna. ALA is found in vegetable oils, nut, veggies, and flaxseeds.
Omega-3 fats have the greatest heart-health benefits. They are known to lower blood pressure and heart rate, lower triglycerides and inflammation, and improve the functioning of blood vessels. With these protective effects, omega-3 fats lower an overall risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 fats also improve brain, nerve and eye development in children. There is also evidence that omega-3 fats play a role in lowering the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancers.
You should aim to eat at least three servings of oily fish per week, and nuts, leafy vegetables, and flaxseeds should always be part of your diet.
3. Olive Oil
There’s a reason why olive oil is the cornerstone of the world’s healthiest diet. The Mediterranean diet advocates using olive oil as your primary cooking oil, and its healthy fat content is the reason why.
The primary type of fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats are considered to be a healthy alternative to the trans fats and refined polyunsaturated fats that are commonly found in processed foods.
A healthy dietary fat, monounsaturated fats help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, aid weight loss, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Eggs get a bad rap for their fat and cholesterol content, but research shows not all fats in eggs are unhealthy. The cholesterol in eggs is dietary and doesn’t raise blood cholesterol. To make the most of the health benefits of eggs, opt for pasteurized and omega-3-enriched eggs.
One large egg has less than five total grams of fat. More than three grams of that are composed of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are healthy. These fats keep your cholesterol levels in check, and have other benefits for heart health. They may also help regulate insulin levels, stabilizing your blood sugar.
5. Coconut Oil
This tropical staple has more than just flavor to offer. Coconut oil is credited with a range of health benefits such slowing down ageing, boosting heart and thyroid health, protecting against disease such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis and diabetes, and even promoting weight loss.
The saturated fat in coconut is largely made up of medium-chain triglycerides, also known as MCTs. Research shows the body metabolizes MCTs differently than it does longer-chain fats that are present in animal fat, dairy, and vegetable oils. Experts say we’re more likely to burn off calories from MCTs than converting and storing them as body fat.
MCTs in coconut oil also increase HDL cholesterol in the body. MCTs are far healthier than fats present in animal fats, dairy, and products containing trans fats, but prove the not all saturated fats are bad for you as previously thought.
Not only do nuts contain protein, they’re also a rich source of healthy fats. With a handful of nuts every day, you can increase your intake of healthy fats and other essential nutrients like magnesium and vitamin E. Nuts are quite high in calories, so they must be consumed in moderation.
Almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios are known to be the healthiest nuts, but other varieties have many health benefits to offer as well. Peanuts and peanut butter are packed with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation, making them great for your heart and overall health.
Studies show that a diet rich in nuts can help lower your risk of developing blood clots that are responsible for heart attacks.
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