What are the fats that promote health, not harm? Check out this list for fats that bring wellness, charm.
Healthy fats, also known as unsaturated fats, are essential nutrients that provide numerous health benefits when consumed in appropriate amounts. These fats are an important part of a balanced diet and can support heart health, brain function, and overall well-being. There are two primary types of healthy fats:
Monounsaturated fats are a type of healthy dietary fat, a subgroup of unsaturated fats, that are known for their beneficial effects on heart health. They have one double bond in their chemical structure, which gives them unique properties and makes them liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats are typically found in a variety of plant-based foods and oils.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are acids having a single double bond, they have two hydrogen atoms deficit, and their two carbon atoms in their structure are connected by a double bond. The human body makes these fatty acids by using saturated fatty acids and uses them in various physiological events.
These fats have been shown to have a positive impact on heart health by improving cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and providing anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, monounsaturated fats are calorie-dense and can help us feel satisfied and full, which can be beneficial for weight management when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
- Olive oil
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews)
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)
- Canola oil
Peanut butter (natural, without added sugars or trans fats)
It’s important to remember that while monounsaturated fats are considered healthy, they should still be consumed in moderation, as all dietary fats are calorie-dense. Replacing saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated fats is a good dietary choice for overall health and well-being.
Polyunsaturated fats are another type of healthy dietary fat, a subgroup of unsaturated fats, which have multiple double bonds in their chemical structure. These multiple double bonds give them unique properties and make them liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats, meaning that the body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained from the diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s are well-known for their numerous health benefits, particularly for heart and brain health. They are found in fatty fish, such as
Plant-based sources of omega-3s include
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and are essential for proper brain function, vision, and heart health.
Omega-6 fatty acids
Omega-6s are also essential, but they are more abundant in the typical Western diet due to the widespread use of vegetable oils (e.g., soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil) in processed foods. While omega-6s are necessary for various bodily functions, it’s essential to maintain a proper balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. An imbalance, with an excessive intake of omega-6s relative to omega-3s, may promote inflammation and potentially contribute to certain health issues.
Polyunsaturated fats play a crucial role in
- Maintaining cell structure
- Aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)
- Supporting the immune system
- Contributing to overall health.
It’s important to include sources of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our diet while being mindful of the types of oils and fats we consume. Aim for a balanced intake of fats and replace unhealthy saturated and trans fats with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to support our overall health and well-being. As with all fats, moderation is key since they are calorie-dense.
WHO Recommends that adults
- limit total fat intake to 30% of total energy intake or less
- Within this 30% recommendation the bad fats should be even more reduced
- saturated fatty acid intake to 10%
- trans-fatty acid intake to 1%