Fats are essential macronutrients that play a vital role in our overall health. They are responsible for building and repairing cell membranes, producing hormones, and storing energy.
While many people associate fats with unhealthy foods, many healthy fats are essential for our health. In fact, healthy fats can help to reduce our risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Types of fats:
There are three main types of fats: saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats.
Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products such as meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs. They are also found in some plant-based foods such as coconut oil and palm oil. Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
Unsaturated fats are found in plant oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, and canola oil. They are also found in nuts, seeds, and avocados. Unsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Monounsaturated fats: Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts. They have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Polyunsaturated fats: Polyunsaturated fats are found in flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, as well as in nuts and seeds. They have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Trans fats are the unhealthiest type of fat. They are formed when vegetable oils are partially hydrogenated. Trans fats raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Healthy fats for whole-food plant-based eaters:
Whole-food plant-based eaters can get all of the healthy fats they need from a variety of plant-based foods. Here are a few examples:
Olive oil: Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Avocado oil: Avocado oil is another good source of monounsaturated fats, as well as vitamin E.
Nuts and seeds: Varieties of Nuts and seeds including their oils are a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as fibre and protein.
Coconut oils: Coconut oils are a good source of energy and helpful saturated and unsaturated fats. They make the exception.
Avocados: Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats, fibre, and potassium.
How much fat do we need?
The recommended daily intake of fat for adults is 20-35% of total calories. However, the optimal intake of fat varies depending on individual factors such as age, activity level, and health status.
For example, people who are very active may need more fat than people who are less active. Additionally, people with certain health conditions, such as high cholesterol or heart disease, may need to limit their intake of fat.
How to Choose healthy fats.
When choosing fats, it is important to focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are beneficial for health. It is also important to limit saturated fats.
Here are some tips for choosing healthy fats:
Choose olive oil over butter or lard.
Eat nuts and seeds as a snack or add them to salads and yoghurt.
Eat fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna.
Limit processed foods, such as chips, cookies, and crackers, which are high in unhealthy fats.
How to get enough healthy fats:
It's easy to get enough healthy fats on a whole-food plant-based diet by including a variety of healthy fat sources in your meals and snacks. Here are a few tips:
Use healthy fats for cooking: Use olive oil, avocado oil, or canola oil for cooking instead of butter or margarine.
Add healthy fats to your meals: Add nuts, seeds, or avocados to your meals and snacks.
Dress your salads with healthy fats: Use a vinaigrette made with olive oil and vinegar to dress your salads instead of a creamy dressing.
Choose healthy fats over unhealthy fats: When choosing snacks and packaged foods, choose options that are low in saturated and trans fats and high in healthy fats.
Which fats are bad for us?
Saturated and trans fats are considered to be unhealthy fats. Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Trans fats can also raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
It is important to limit our intake of saturated and trans fats. Some tips for limiting saturated and trans fats include:
Choosing lean meats and poultry.
Removing the skin from chicken and turkey.
Choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Avoiding processed foods.
Cooking with healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oils, and avocado oil.
Healthy fats are an essential part of a whole-food plant-based diet. By including a variety of healthy fat sources in your meals and snacks, you can ensure that you are getting the fats you need to support your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
Experiment with different healthy fats: There are many different types of healthy fats available, so experiment with different ones to find the ones you enjoy the most.
Don't be afraid of fat: Healthy fats are good for you, so don't be afraid to include them in your diet. However, it's important to consume them in recommended portions and to choose healthy fat sources over unhealthy fat sources.
Avoid trans fats. Trans fats are found in processed foods, such as margarine, fried foods, and baked goods. They are the most unhealthy type of fat and have been linked to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Cook with healthy fats. Olive oil is a good choice for cooking because it has a high smoke point. Avocado oil is another good option.
Talk to a registered dietitian: If you have any questions or concerns about how much fat you should be eating or what types of fats are best for you, talk to a registered dietitian.