when it comes to nutrition, fats often get a bad rap. but did you know not all fats are created equal? some fats are actually essential for our overall health and well-being, and shouldn’t be avoided. we’re explaining why our bodies need them and where we can find them!
why we need healthy fats
- essential nutrients: healthy fats play a crucial role in our body's functioning. they are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (a, d, e, and k), protect our organs and help regulate body temperature.
- hormone regulation: fats are involved in the production and regulation of hormones. they support the creation of healthy cell membranes and help maintain the integrity of our nervous system. consuming adequate healthy fats can contribute to hormonal balance, which is key for bodily processes and just feeling good overall.
- heart health: contrary to popular belief, not all fats are harmful to our cardiovascular health. healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and decreasing inflammation.
- brain function: our brains are primarily composed of fat, and healthy fats are crucial for optimal brain function. omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are essential for brain development, cognition, and mood regulation.
sources of healthy fats:
- avocado: avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. they also provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. add slices to salads, spread it on toast, or blend it into a tasty guacamole.
- nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are all packed with healthy fats, fiber, and valuable nutrients. snack on a handful of nuts, sprinkle seeds over your oatmeal or blend them into smoothies for a healthy fat boost.
- fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. these fats have been linked to improved heart health and brain function. aim to include fatty fish in your diet a few times a week, either grilled, baked, or in the form of fish oil supplements.
- olive oil: extra virgin olive oil is a fantastic source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. drizzle it over salads, use it in marinades, or as a flavorful cooking oil for sautéing vegetables.
- coconut: while it contains saturated fats, coconut offers unique medium-chain triglycerides (mcts) that are metabolized differently in the body. coconut oil, coconut milk, and unsweetened shredded coconut can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
- dark chocolate: good news for chocolate lovers! dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa contains healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.
you can and should embrace healthy fats in your diet! what are your favorite healthy fat sources?