When embarking on a healthy lifestyle, the majority of people see “fat” as a dirty word, with many diets recommending that you should reduce your fat intake as much as possible to lose weight. Therefore, the idea of healthy fats may seem like a contradiction in terms,— while in fact fat in our diets is an essential component for healthy growth and organ function. Adults should look to include between 20% and 35% of calories from healthy fats.
There are fats, and then there are fats!
Not all fats are the same. Saturated fats, like those found in butter and cheese, are the ones we are generally advised to avoid, or at least eat in moderation, while polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds and uncooked vegetable oils, are generally good for us.
Healthy Fats for Vegans and Vegetarians
Just like meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians need to get a healthy dose of fat in their diets. The good news for vegans is that most of the top healthy fats are indeed plant based, making them perfect to include in any diet, whether vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or carnivore.
Here are some popular plant-based sources of health fats you may wish to include in your diets.
Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados are a great source of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.
High in protein and monounsaturated fat and a super dose of vitamin E, almonds are a great antioxidant.
A great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and selenium, an antioxidant that provides defense against free radical damage.
Break some roasted cacao beans into pieces and you have sweet nibble full of monounsaturated fat, magnesium and antioxidants.
A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, these very small seeds are also a good source of protein and fiber in addition to healthy fat.
Although seemingly high in saturated fat, coconut oil is actually rich in medium chain triglycerides which are burned easily for fuel in the liver, bypassing fat storage. Only use virgin coconut oil as any refinement will negate any positive benefits. One of the only healthy fats that can be used for cooking without losing its healthy properties.
Rich in both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, hemp seeds offer the ideal ratio of the two omegas (3:1). One of the best healthy fats.
The highest source of omega-3 you will find. This seed give you more than ten times the omega 3 you will get from even the best wild salmon!
If you have a nut allergy, sunflower seeds are a great alternative packed with monounsaturated fat. Also a great source of manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and folate. Not just healthy fats, but a whole host of goodness.
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acid. Also a great source of manganese and copper as well as other minerals.
Do you know which foods are considered Superfoods? Check out our article on the best superfood to include in your diet. Click here.