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Benefits of Incorporating Healthy Fats into Your Diet

No matter what diet pattern you follow, healthy fats are one component of nutrition that should always make it into your meal or snack. With small changes, healthy fats can easily be incorporated into any diet!

Today we are going to discuss with you the benefits of healthy fats, and provide you with a list of healthy fat food sources and tips for helping you to increase your intake of healthy fats!

 

Runny eggs over spinach and toast

What are Healthy Fats vs. Unhealthy Fats

Healthy fats are otherwise known as unsaturated fats which come in two forms: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats are predominantly found in plant foods.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids classified as polyunsaturated fats. We must, however get these through whole food sources or supplements as the body cannot produce them on its own.

It is important to include unsaturated fats over saturated and trans fat in your diet. A high consumption of saturated fats, in large quantities over a long duration of time can cause inflammation in the body and potentially put you at risk at developing heart serious chronic diseases.

Saturated fats are mainly found in animal foods, however it is also important to be aware that there are some plant foods that are high in saturated fats such as coconut and palm oil. Some of the major sources of saturated fats are processed meats, store-bought cookies, and certain types of fast food.

Therefore, it is important to try and include more whole, plant-based foods into your diet to increase your healthy fat consumption for so many health benefits not only now, but to prevent anything from compromising your future health.

 

Person preparing raw salmon

10 Benefits of Healthy Fats

  • Aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Improves satiety levels
  • Supports healthy hormone production and functioning
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Reduces inflammation in the body
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces cancer risk
  • May aid in healthy weight loss
  • Increases micronutrients in your diet

 

Halved avocados 

5 Healthy Fat Sources

  1. Avocados
  2. Nut/seed butter (peanut, almond, sunflower, tahini, etc.)
  3. Raw nuts/seeds (almonds, cashews, walnuts; flax, chia, hemp, sesame, sunflower, etc.)
  4. Fatty fish (salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, etc.)
  5. Plant oils (olive, avocado, flaxseed, sunflower, etc.)

 

Bowl of mixed nuts

5 Ways to Use Healthy Fats

  1. Add avocado to a smoothie
  2. Spread nut butter on whole-grain toast with fruit
  3. Sprinkle seeds on top of oatmeal
  4. Add grilled fish to a salad
  5. Use plant oils in a homemade salad dressing


Try out this plant-based Tahini Cayenne Dressing (featuring two healthy fat sources!) on top of your next salad! Adding this to a bed of kale with quinoa, tofu, cucumbers, beets, and sweet potatoes will also provide you with a whole-grain source, plant-based protein, and all of the essential micronutrients you could ask for! Try it out and let us know what you think!

 

Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing

Kale & Quinoa Tofu Salad with a Creamy Tahini Cayenne Dressing

  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast 

 

Author: Karli McCarthy
Cal Poly, SLO Nutrition Student
@kale_n_it_karli 

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