Fats play a vital role in a healthy balanced diet. The fat you consume in your diet also aids in absorbing various vitamins and balances your hormones and blood pressure. It all depends on which type of fat you are consuming in your diet. Avocado toast has become a hot favorite, and people have started adding coconut oil to their coffee.
Plant-based fats are preferred over animal-based fats as they have more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It improves your heart health and reduces cholesterol. Oils that contain monounsaturated fats also prove to be a great antioxidant.
There are four main types of fats in our diet
- Saturated fats
- Trans fats
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats.
Saturated fats and trans fats are termed bad fats as consuming them regularly leads to high cholesterol, heart attack, blocked arteries, and stroke. Saturated fats are in animal foods like meat or dairy products, whereas trans fats are mainly in processed food packs such as snacks, frozen food packets, and deep-fried foods. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good fats. They’re a very important part of a balanced diet so we must consume these fats regularly.
Benefits of Good fats
- Reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke
- Lowers LDL cholesterol and improves HDL cholesterol
- Improves memory loss
- Reduces joint pain and inflammation
- Necessary to dissolve fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E, & K
- Aids in building cell membranes
Various plant-based foods are a good source of healthy fats. Let’s discuss each one of them in detail.
Nuts are a great source of good fats. One handful serving of walnuts will give you approximately 13 grams of polyunsaturated fat. Almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, etc., are all a great source of good fats. You can have them as a snack, make a smoothie, homemade nut bar, or add them to your salad.
Nut butter are also a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Just one tablespoon of peanut butter will give you 3.8 grams of monounsaturated fat and 2.2 grams of polyunsaturated fat. You can easily grab nut butter from the nearest grocery store or buy some of the best ones online. Almond and cashew butter are also in great demand apart from the famous peanut butter. You can also make it at home by simply roasting the nuts at home and blending them into a smooth paste.
Flax seeds are tiny seeds that are a well-known source of omega-3 fatty acids. You must use grounded flaxseed as they are easy to digest. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid that improves our brain health and avoids any blockage in the arteries, thus reducing cardiovascular diseases. Flax seeds have amazing anti-inflammatory properties too. You may consume them in powder form or add them to your smoothies, cereal, or energy bars.
Avocados are very high in monosaturated fats. It helps to lower cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels. Avocados are also a rich source of fiber. Convert it into yummy guacamole, enjoy an avocado toast, or just eat it plain. You can also add it to your smoothies or as a salad topping. The yummy options are endless.
Cacao nibs are raw and crushed cacao beans. It is also rich in antioxidants and magnesium. They are crunchy and full of flavor, so you can easily add them to your smoothies, granola bars, yogurt, or trail mix.
Chia seeds are a house of healthy fats and fiber and are smaller than flax seeds. Two tablespoons of chia seeds will provide approx. 6.5 g of polyunsaturated fat. It is a great inclusion in the diet as it helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and keeps the digestive system healthy. Chia seeds work well with smoothies, puddings, or when sprinkled on your oatmeal. You can also add them while baking your bread.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil has numerous health benefits. It is a rich source of monounsaturated fat and oleic acid, has anti-cancer benefits, and boasts anti-inflammatory properties. It tastes the best in salad dressings, pesto sauce, sautés, vegetables, or pasta. You can use it in many ways, and it is a great way to include plant-based fats in your diet.
Soybeans are a great source of good fats. Every cup of soybeans gives you 5.3 grams of good fats. Add them to your soup, fried rice, or vegetable sauté and relish them every time!
Tofu is the by-product of soybeans and is a great source of good fats. This is a gluten-free, low-calorie source, which is rich in nutrition. It is a lovely addition to vegetarian and vegan diets. You can add tofu to just about any dish, be it a salad, soup, smoothies, etc. But while buying tofu, you need to take precautions to see that the tofu is free from pesticides.
Tahini comes from pulverized sesame seeds. Chickpeas and tahini are combined to make a yummy hummus that you can enjoy with your pita bread, tortilla chips, or veggies. Sesame seeds are almost 80% good fats, which helps to maintain cholesterol levels. Tahini serves as a great condiment with roasted vegetables or fresh salad.
So now you are clear about the healthy good fat food sources which are plant-based. Nuts, nut butter, various types of seeds, cacao nibs, avocados, and so much more are rich sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You can easily include all of them in your diet. You can make various healthy smoothies, snacks, bars, etc., and relish these food sources. Just remember to limit the intake so that it does not lead to unaccounted weight gain. Start incorporating them into your daily diet and see the miracle. Stay happy and eat healthily!