Polyunsaturated fats include essential fatty acids — known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids — which are not produced by the body but are essential to cell growth and brain function. These fatty acids are found in foods of both animal and vegetable origin, such as fish, certain nuts and seeds and vegetable oils.
Not-so-healthy fats include saturated and trans fats. Foods of animal origin — such as beef, pork, poultry, whole dairy and eggs — and tropical oils (coconut and palm oil) contain saturated fats. Because they’re solid at room temperature, they’re often called “solid fats.” Consuming a lot of saturated fat can adversely affect your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.
Trans fats are produced when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats. They’re used to extend the shelf life of food products, but they have no nutritional value and are bad for your health. Among other harmful effects, these fats hurt your cholesterol profile by raising your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering your good cholesterol (HDL).
5 foods that are high in healthy fats
Below are some foods that are high in healthy fats, along with their health benefits. Not only are they delicious, but they can also help you prevent disease. Unsaturated fats can relieve inflammation, help lower your blood cholesterol and even stabilize your heart rate. Despite these benefits, you still need to watch how much you eat each day. The first food in our list, for example, is avocados, but each avocado contains some 20 grams of monounsaturated fat. That’s about a third of the fat you should be eating each day. And that’s OK, as long as you watch how much fat — and how many overall calories — you eat for the rest of the day. Now let’s look at the list:
This luscious fruit is one of the foods of vegetable origin that are highest in fat. It consists of about 67 percent monounsaturated fat, which helps to increase your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol and triglycerides. It’s an excellent source of fiber, and it’s low in carbohydrates, which makes it a must-have for people with diabetes. It’s rich in vitamins B, C, E and K, as well as potassium, magnesium and folic acid. Enjoy some delicious guacamole or add some avocado to your salads, breakfast toast, sandwiches and smoothies.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is considered a “superfish.” Why? The polyunsaturated fats in salmon prevent the blood clotting that can cause heart attacks, and they may also protect you from irregular heartbeat, which can cause sudden death. Salmon is a source of healthy animal protein and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Other types of fish with these properties include arctic char, mackerel and anchovies. You can make a delicious baked salmon with a side salad.
3. Chia seeds
Studies show that regularly consuming omega-3 fatty acids is key to maintaining a healthy brain, and chia seeds can help with that. They’re considered superfoods because they’re rich in omega-3s and are a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus and zinc. They are associated with a reduced appetite, lower cholesterol and better gut health. You can add chia seeds to oatmeal, smoothies, desserts or avocado toast. You can also make a delicious pudding with chia seeds and top it with fresh fruit and nuts.