The concept of fat being part of healthy eating might not sound quite right for some. Reducing fat intake has been a prominent message for both the diet and health industries for decades. Grocery store shelves are packed full of ‘half’, ‘reduced’ and ‘no fat’ products.
However, there has been a shift in attitudes over the past few years thanks to in-depth research and studies. Health professionals are encouraging the use of more fat as part of a healthy diet. Of course, this doesn’t mean deep fried chicken is on the menu; the focus is on ‘healthy’ fats.
Here’s a look at why you should be increasing your healthy fat intake, where to get it from and how you can incorporate this into your everyday diet.
Why Are Healthy Fats Good?
Including a variety of different fats into your diet will aid you in more ways than one. It’s important to recognise the difference between fats which are good and ones that are detrimental to health. For example, excessive amounts of saturated fats can cause high bad cholesterol in the blood which will increase health risks such as heart attacks.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are the types of fat which promote a healthy body. They help to maintain a satisfactory amount of cholesterol in the blood and are an excellent source of energy. These healthy kinds of fats are essential to good health, so cutting these out entirely could be harmful to your future health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most beneficial fats you can consume. They can help combat heart disease by reducing the number of triglyceride levels found in your blood. You can find this beneficial fat in foods such as salmon, mackerel, and chia seeds.
Oils are an excellent source of healthy fat. The food and diet industry have attached negative associations with oils for years. In reality, a glug of olive oil on a salad or a handful of nuts in the morning can increase your intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The superstar oil of the past couple of years has been coconut - and with good reason.
Although coconut oil is technically classed as saturated fat, it contains MCT (Medium chain triglycerides) which are metabolised in a different way than your average saturated fats such as cheese. Coconut oil is an excellent source of lauric acid which helps to maintain a healthy heart.
Snacking on Fats
Choosing the right snacks during your day can make a big difference to your health. Instead of reaching for unhealthy convenient foods, look for options which are high in healthy fats.
A handful of nuts is such an easy way to keep hunger at bay while stocking your body up on essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. You can buy a big batch in the grocery store or opt for smaller ‘snack pack’ sizes to take with you on the go. If you have children, they’re an excellent addition to a lunch box.
Try your hand at homemade granola bars. You can add any nuts and seeds you fancy, along with nutritional fruit and natural sweeteners like honey. All you need is a big mixing bowl, ingredients, and an oven to set into bars. They're brilliant to eat on the go or as an afternoon snack.
Healthy Fat Meal Ideas
Breakfast is a crucial way to start your day the right way. Everyone is so busy these days so packing in as much energy-boosting fats in the morning is essential, so you don’t crash and burn. Smother nut butter over seeded bread and top with layers of omega-3 enriched smoked salmon.
The mighty avocado has been steadily growing in popularity in recent times and for good reason. They’re an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as being a versatile ingredient and delicious in taste. Fill up a bowl with quinoa, veggies and sliced avocado. Splash with some olive oil and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top for some extra zing.
Mackerel is an excellent source of healthy fats and also makes a filling, substantial addition to a dinner plate. Flavour with coriander, chives, and fennel and serve with a homemade slaw and sweet potato side dish. Sprinkle over sesame seeds with a side helping of soy sauce for an Asian take.
As the myth of fats being the enemy is beginning to fade, remember to research your food to make sure you’re receiving the right amount and type of fat in your daily diet.