How much do you know about healthy fats? When it comes to dietary fat, the details matter a lot. Not all fats are equal. Although many can have negative impacts on your health and wellness, there are quite a few good fats. While there has been a lot of talk about following a low fat diet in the past, people are slowly ditching these diets for meal plans that include more beneficial healthy fats.
Learning to choose the right fats can have a major impact on your health, physique and overall wellness. Ready to find out which fats to embrace and which to avoid? Let's dive in.
What’s the Difference between Good Fats and Bad Fats?
There are two main categories of healthy fats:
Avocados, canola oil, peanut oil and olive oil are popular types of monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand are the essential fatty acids like omega 6s and omega 3s. Incorporating omega acids in your diet can reduce the chances of strokes, lower blood pressure and raise HDL levels.
Tuna and salmon are common types of fatty fish rich in omega 3s. Other items that contain good fat include eggs, milk and cereal.
Deep fried food or any item dripping in grease contains trans fats. This type of fat helps prevent food from rotting, so it's prevalent in processed and fast food. Trans fats do not offer any health benefit whatsoever. If anything, they can clog your arteries, greatly increasing the risks for diabetes, stroke and obesity.
It's not just obviously fatty foods like french fries and fried chicken that have unhealthy fats. Some foods can have plenty of hidden unhealthy fat, even if it's not been deep fried or visibly greasy. These foods to look out for include:
- Packaged baked goods
- Packaged frozen pizza
- Non-dairy creamer
- Microwavable popcorn
Not Good But Not Bad Either
Some fats are excellent for you while others aren’t. However, there is also a fat type that falls somewhere in the middle and that is saturated fat. Diets that contain high amounts of saturated fats can be unhealthy. However, saturated fats play a vital part in regulating hormones and conversion of vitamins. Limiting your intake of saturated fat below 10% of your total calories per day is a good way to achieve the right balance.
What are the Best Good Fats?
As mentioned earlier, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are arguably the best types of healthy fats.
Foods rich in polyunsaturated fats
Foods rich in monounsaturated fats
MCT Oil, Omega 3s and coconut oils are some other healthy fat types that you should consider incorporating into your diet. If your daily meals do not contain these good fats, you can always take them in supplement form.
How Much Fat Should You Consume Each Day
Your fat intake per day should make up about 20 to 35 percent of your overall calories. This will be about 40 to 78 grams of fat for people following a 2,000 calorie diet..
These fats should make up about 20 percent of your overall calories if you are following a 2,000 calorie diet.
You should limit these fats to about ten percent of your total calories in a 2,000 calorie diet.
You should not consume over 22 grams of saturated fats in a 2,000 calorie diet.
As mentioned earlier, trans fats are not healthy and you must try avoiding them as much as possible. Consuming one gram of trans fats or lower would be the healthiest option.
How do Good Fats Benefit Your Body?
Consuming healthy fats is an excellent way to reduce the risk of various heart diseases, especially if you want to replace saturated fat. Increasing your monounsaturated fat intake can greatly reduce triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels. Some studies also suggest that consuming monounsaturated fats may reduce LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol.”
Following a diet high in monounsaturated fats can be massively beneficial, especially for people with high levels of blood sugar. Needless to say, replacing the low quality fats from your diet with high quality ones can significantly lower the risks of developing various heart conditions.
What are Healthy Fats for Keto Diets
The keto or ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fats. That said, you have to be careful when following this diet as consuming some fat types can result in health risks. Seeds, nuts, avocado oil and olive oil are among the healthiest fat types for the keto diet.
People following this diet must get 55 or 60 percent of their overall calories from various fat sources to stay in a state known as ketosis. So, if you consume 2,000 calories per day, you will need 120 to 130 grams of fat every day.
As mentioned earlier, unsaturated fats are among the healthiest fat types and they are especially ideal for people following keto diets. A research study conducted in 2016 even found that people who consumed unsaturated fats in high amounts had a lower mortality risk.
Here are some of the best fats to include in your ketogenic diet:
While there are plenty of other fat types you can consume when following the keto diet, the ones mentioned here are arguably the best.
What are Healthy Fats for Weight Loss
It’s true, you can’t outrun a bad diet. No matter how much you workout, consuming the wrong foods will only hinder your progress. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to what you eat and make changes whenever necessary. Gone are the days when consuming low fat diets seemed to be the only way to lose weight. Now, you can consume healthy fats to accelerate the weight loss process. Here are some of the best healthy fat-rich foods to help you lose weight.
What are the Benefits of MCT Oil?
Medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are a fat type present in certain dairy products and oils. Research suggests that MCT oil offers several benefits. This dietary supplement contains different MCT fats sourced from a variety of foods.
Usually, people use MCT oil for losing weight or improving their physical endurance. Some also believe that consuming this oil everyday can improve the ability to think and may even help with some forms of dementia. Here are some common benefits of consuming MCT oil:
Improved Endurance and Energy Boost
As mentioned earlier, consuming this oil could boost your endurance levels, allowing you to exercise with high intensity. A study even discovered that people who consumed MCT-rich foods instead of long chain fats could exercise with high intensity for longer periods.
MCT Oil Could Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Incorporating MCTs in your diet could also help you with diabetes management by improving blood sugar levels.
Consuming MCTs Regularly May Lower Cholesterol
Like most healthy fats, MCT oil is also beneficial for heart health and may reduce cholesterol levels. Coconut oil contains high amounts of MCTs and may improve cholesterol upon regular consumption.
It Could Help With Weight Management
A study conducted during 2003 noted that people who consumed MCTs burned more fat compared to those who did not. It concluded that MCT supplements could help prevent obesity by stimulating weight loss.
What Food Sources are the best for Omega 3s?
Plenty of food sources contain omega 3 fatty acids. Following a diet plan containing high amounts of certain nuts, seeds and fish is an excellent way to increase your intake of omega 3s. These fatty acids offer numerous benefits for your brain and body.
What’s more, multiple mainstream health organizations suggest that adults should consume 250 to 500 milligrams of DHA or EPA every day. Merely eating two fatty fish servings can help you reach that amount easily. Algae, fatty fish and different high fat plant foods contain omega 3 fatty acids in high amounts. The following food sources are among the best for omega 3s:
How Can Vegetarians Get Healthy Fats
Consuming a balanced diet full of complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats is vital for a properly functioning body. Vegetarians can still get the important vitamins, minerals and macronutrients from plant-based diets as there are plenty of excellent sources. Besides being full of nutrients and energy, healthy fats are also important for healthy skin, brain function, hormone production, satiety and more.
Vegan Sources of Healthy Fats
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of healthy fat sources out there. If you are a vegan who wants to include healthy fats in their diet, here are some of the best sources out there:
Dark chocolate is incredibly nutritious and contains about eleven grams of fat. Besides being an excellent plant-based fat source, dark chocolate is also high in magnesium, iron and antioxidants.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A single tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil contains 14 grams of fat. What’s more, about 73 percent of its fats contain monosaturated oleic acid, which may contain anti cancerous and anti-inflammatory properties.
Coconuts contain loads of saturated fats. However, unlike many saturated fat sources, coconuts also contain medium chain triglycerides, which are especially ideal for people who follow keto diets.
Avocados are incredibly nutritious and delicious. This fruit contains 77 percent fat, a massive chunk of which is monounsaturated. A medium-sized avocado offers double the potassium found in a large banana.
How Do Fats Impact Your Workout
Fat is a vital component of diets designed for fueling workout routines. A single gram of dietary fats is about nine calories. The incredible calorie density and vast storage capacity of fats make it a massive energy reserve for fueling workouts. That said, it is worth keeping in mind that these calories may not be as accessible to people performing intense and quick efforts like weight lifting or sprinting. Instead, fat is more helpful for slower, longer and low intensity exercises like walking and cycling.
Even when performing high intensity exercises, in which carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel source, your body still requires fat for accessing the stored glycogen.
How Can Fat Supplements Help You?
In the past, high fat diets used to be a big no-no. While there is no denying that fat can be quite calorie dense compared to carbs and protein, it is not the enemy many made it out to be. If anything, you can accelerate your fat loss by consuming healthy fat foods and supplements.
Many people struggle to include healthy fats in their daily meals. This could be because of various reasons such as leading a busy, on-the-go lifestyle. Fortunately, you can still get your daily fat intake through fat supplements. There are plenty of fat supplements out there like MCT oils, omega 3s, and cod liver oil. They are available in liquid and soft gel forms and are quite easy to consume.
Consuming these supplements everyday along with a balanced diet will help reduce your chances of developing various diseases. What’s more, fat supplements will also aid you in your workouts, ensuring you have the strength to endure grueling sessions.
Recommended Good Fat Supplements