We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not all true. Well, sort of.
At least it’s not true if we’re talking about eating fat—healthy fat, that is. Most of us have been conditioned to think that fatty foods should be avoided at all costs, when the truth is: we need fat in our diet. Not only is it essential for optimal brain function, soft skin and delivering fat-soluble vitamins, but it also plays a major role in reducing the risk of heart disease.
The key is making sure your diet is filled with the right fats. Unsaturated fats, which include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, for example, can be used to replace saturated or trans fats, and can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Read on to discover which fatty nutritional powerhouses shouldn’t be banished from your plate.
Not only is avocado delicious, but some even consider it a superfood. One medium avocado has approximately 23 grams of fat, but it is primarily monounsaturated fat. It is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids that keep your heart healthy and potassium, along with lutein, an antioxidant that may protect your vision. Avocado even improves the nutritional value of other foods. It’s high fat content makes it easier for you to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, K, D and E, making it one food you shouldn’t skip.
For years, egg yolks have gotten a bad rap due to the high cholesterol levels. However, medical researchers have found that there is a difference between dietary cholesterol and coronary cholesterol. In fact, some research suggest that eating yolks can actually increase your HDL levels, the “good” cholesterol needed to keep your heart healthy. Egg yolks are also one of the richest dietary sources of the B-complex vitamin choline, which is associated with better neurological function and reduced inflammation.
Snacking on nuts, especially almonds, is an easy way to get your daily serving of healthy fats. One handful of almonds (about 23) contains nearly 9 grams of monounsaturated and 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat. Nuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, responsible for improving heart health, and L-argine, which can improve the health of the lining of our arteries. What’s more, regular consumption of nuts has been shown to reduce LDL, “bad” cholesterol, and reduce the risk of blood clots that can cause heart attacks.
Coconut oil is one of the most unique sources of fat. It contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are fatty acids of a medium length. Most of the fatty acids in our diets are long-chain fatty acids that must be broken down before they can be absorbed. However, the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source energy.
Olives aren’t just good for topping off a martini; instead, they’re great used as snacks or salad toppings. Just adding a small amount to your dishes (about 10) will provide about 3.5 grams of monounsaturated and 0.4 of polyunsaturated fats to your meal. Olives contain other beneficial nutrients as well, such as hydroxytyrosol, a phytonutrient that has been linked to cancer prevention. It has also been shown to reduce bone loss. Reap the benefits by using olive oil for cooking or in dressings and sauces.