Contrary to what many people believe, fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. In fact, you should make sure that between 20 to 35 percent of your total caloric intake comes from fat. The key is not to restrict all fats but to make sure that you limit unhealthy fats.
Two unhealthy fats are saturated fat, which is found in eggs and meat, and trans fats, which is formed when liquid vegetable oil is processed into a solid. Bad fats clog arteries and are a leading cause of heart disease.
Healthy fats, on the other hand, have many proven health benefits. Derived from plant sources, the two main healthy fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Good fats lower bad cholesterol and protect your heart by providing key antioxidants and minerals associated with heart health. They are found in the following foods.
Because they are high in protein, nuts make an excellent snack for those attempting to lose weight. In fact, it may surprise you to know that people who eat a lot of nuts are thinner and have a 20 percent lower death rate than those who don’t. Three of the healthiest nuts are almonds, Brazil nuts and walnuts. Almonds lower bad cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
Brazil nuts give you a day’s supply of the mineral selenium, now thought to be one of the most important antioxidants. They are also a healthy source of dietary fat and vitamin E. Walnuts may be the most healthy of all the nuts, and new discoveries about their antioxidant properties are being made all the time.
A quarter cup of walnuts contains a full day’s supply of omega-3 fats. The nuts also contain vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol, which provides important protection against heart disease.
This creamy fruit is rich in the carotenoid antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene. It makes a wonderful accompaniment to any Mexican dish. It also makes a great mayonnaise substitute. Just mash a ripe avocado into canned tuna, another great source of healthy fat, and you have a delicious spread for sandwiches.
Olive oil is an important staple of the Mediterranean diet and said to contribute to the low levels of heart disease in these countries. Because it is rich in flavor, it can be used sparingly in sauces and stir-fries. Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil when you make popcorn over the stove: it gives this treat a slightly nutty flavor that is a great substitute for butter.
Like olive oil, canola oil is a monounsaturated fat. Its mild flavor makes it a great choice for food with delicate flavors, and can be used in baking. Expeller pressed oil, especially cold pressed oil, is the healthiest choice. This process uses no chemicals and lower temperatures, which leaves the composition of the oil intact.
Although harder for the human body to process into usable omega-3 fatty acids, flax seed is still an important part of a healthy diet. Two tablespoons of flax seed contains 15 percent of our daily fiber as well as significant amounts of copper, magnesium and vitamin B1.
Even better, the omega-3 content of flax seed remains stable even when baked at a temperature of 300 degrees for up to three hours. You can add flax seed to muffins, pancakes, and hot cereal in order to enjoy their benefits.
Salmon and fatty fish
Salmon and other fatty fish, like mackerel and tuna, are such a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that the American Heart Association recommends that you should eat at least two servings of fatty fish each week. Although Atlantic salmon is a better source of omega-3s, CNN reports that farmed Atlantic salmon also contains far higher levels of PCBs and toxic chemicals. For overall health, choose wild Pacific salmon whenever possible.