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Vegetarian and Vegan Healthy Fats – Everything You Need To Know

Across Canada, people are opting for more and more plant-based food options. Fats have had their share of good and bad press.

Did you know that in 2020, approx. 2.3 million Canadians reported following a vegetarian diet? And nearly a million consumers categorized themselves as vegan. Unquestionably, the number of vegans and vegetarians is on the rise. Even if you don't follow a strict no meat or no animal product diet, many people are incorporating more plant-based foods into their diet for both health and environmental reasons. Today more that ever, people are opting for a greater array of plant-based fats in their diet. 

A quick search on Google for "vegetarian good fats" and "vegan healthy fats" can lead you down a rabbit hole of confusing resources. Google data clearly highlights that there is a 113% spike in vegan food, lifestyle, and vegan fats recipes in Canada. 

Many people learned that a healthy diet has little to no fat, and fats have been blamed for the obesity pandemic and a host of heart-related diseases. But fats aren't the enemy here – they are an essential macronutrient for maintaining a good heart, optimal body function, good hair health, and lowering inflammation.

While theories keep changing, one thing remains for sure, a healthy body needs a balance of proteins, carbs, and fats. Let's face it – we all love fat, and it makes everything taste a whole lot better. But not all dietary fats are equally healthy.

In this article, we will guide you on sourcing vegetarian good fats. Continue reading as we burst the bubble around weight loss, vegetarian supplements, and the best sources of plant-based healthy fats.

Can Vegetarians Get Enough Healthy Fats?

Fat is an essential source of energy that protects the body against heat loss and helps digest vitamins. For adults, it's recommended that the fat should not exceed 33% of the total food energy intake, making it 95g for men and 70g for women

It's a misconception that going vegan deprives you of the required nutrients, as it's possible to find numerous natural foods and plant-based products with high volumes of healthy fats and the right kind of nutrition. Moreover, vegan and vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fats.

Unsaturated healthier fats mainly derive from plant sources such as seeds, fruits, green leafy vegetables, and nuts. Other sources of vegan healthy fats include olive oil, soya beans, corn, sesame, flaxseeds, hempseed, and rapeseed oils. 

So, in a nutshell, vegetarians can easily meet their fat requirements through plant-based healthy fats

Good Fats For Weight Loss For Vegetarians

The good news is healthy fats, when consumed in the right quantities, don't cause weight gain. Trending fat-based diets like keto diets often prioritize vegan healthy fats.

Eating a variety of non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts can help you lose some extra pounds while being a vegetarian. However, it's still good to avoid highly-processed vegetarian foods such as veggie burgers, frozen desserts, and imitation dairy products. 

What Are The Healthiest Vegan Fats?

Dark Chocolate is an excellent source of healthy fats. Photo by Ella Olsson.

Your body needs a certain amount of healthful high-fat foods to aid hormone function, memory, and absorption of nutrients. Some of the healthiest vegan fats can be found in:

  • Avocado
  • Chia seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseeds 

Add these easy vegetarian good fats to your meals and create a well-rounded plant-based diet. 

Easy Vegan Healthy Fats Sources

The easiest sources to get your intake of vegetarian good fats are through consuming wholesome grains, nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, and brazil nuts), olives, oats, buckwheat, seeds (sunflower, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds), durian, plant-based oils (corn oil, olive oil) and quinoa. 

The Best Sources Of Plant-Based Healthy Fats

It's best to consume less than 30% of calories from fat and less than 10% of calories from saturated fats. According to Canada's food guide, it's essential to choose foods with healthy fats as they can lower heart disease risks, which are the number one cause of death in Canada. 

The following foods contain the best sources of vegan healthy fat

  • Whole grains 
  • Coconut
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dark chocolate
  • Leafy greens and vegetables 
  • Seed and nut butter
  • Tofu and soybeans 
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Yogurt 
  • Quinoa
  • Tahini
  • Legumes
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Fruits 

Are There Vegetarian Supplements For Healthy Fats?

As the world moves away from animal-based sources, plant-based healthy fats are finally gaining the credit they deserve. 

Getting the daily dose of Vitamins and Omega-3 on a plant-based diet isn't as simple as adding a few tablespoons of chia seeds or flaxseeds into your meals. They are a great source of fats but don't contain any DHA or EPA. The best way to incorporate enough DHA and EPA into a plant-based diet is through algae supplements and sea vegetables. It's also possible to obtain Omega-3 from wholefood forms of seeds and nuts. 

Key Vegetarian/Vegan Fats Takeaways

  • Fats have been misunderstood for a while now. Choosing plant-based healthy fats in your diet makes up for the loss of dietary and meat-based nutrients. Hence, keep your vegan fat intake between the recommended 20-30% of the total food intake. 
  • Seeds, certain plant oils, vegetables, legumes and nut butters can all provide good sources of healthy fats
  • Try to include healthy fat in each meal or snack. Grind them into your smoothie, add them to granola bars or simply garnish them over your breakfast for a bit of a healthy, delish, and nutritious meal.

Vegan Supplement Recommendations

Nuts 'n' More Peanut Butter Vegan

Nuts 'n' More Peanut Butter Vegan

Raw Nutritional Vegan Pro 908g | HERC'S Nutrition Canada

Raw Nutritional Vegan Pro

North Coast Naturals Boosted Vegan All-In-One 840g Vanilla | HERC'S Nutrition Canada

North Coast Naturals Boosted Vegan All-In-One

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