For far too long many of us avoided fat. And even though now it is well known that there are healthy fats our bodies need, years of anti-fat conditioning still leave many people fat phobic – and this could be seriously damaging their health.
Not only do these fats provide essential nutrients that help our bodies to function and protect against disease, people on low fat diets who avoid even the good fats generally eat more high-sugar carbohydrates – which are bad for health and lead to weight gain.
Good fats, on the other hand, improve health. So, including them in a balanced diet could actually help control weight.
Plus, eating healthy fats could make you live longer. A 30-year study carried out by Harvard University found that ‘good fats’ lower your risk of dying early.
Here is our guide to the best foods full of good fats.
Flaxseed (also known as linseed) is very high in fat. One cup of flaxseed contains a whopping 48 grams of fat – but it is all good, unsaturated fat. Flaxseed is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which improve heart and brain health. Some research has suggested flaxseed can help protect against some cancers as it is packed full of plant nutrients containing antioxidants and oestrogen. It is also high in fibre.
One of the few non-fish oils that contains omega 3 fatty acids, soybean oil is believed to protect against heart disease, improve cardiovascular health, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Its neutral flavour makes it perfect for cooking and salad dressings.
Raw, unsalted nuts are a good source of fibre and plant protein. They also contain vitamin E and the mineral magnesium, which many people are lacking. Eating nuts could help protect against obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
This superfood is good for lowering blood pressure and has an anti-inflammatory effect. Chia seeds are one of the best sources of omega 3, and are packed with minerals and protein. Chia seeds are incredibly versatile and can be used in everything from healthy breakfasts to puddings. Check out some chia seed recipes here.
Most fruits are full of carbohydrates so are high in sugar. Avocado is different as it is full of healthy fats instead of carbohydrate. It is packed with protein and fibre and is an excellent source of iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, folic acid and vitamins A, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, E and K. Great for healthy skin, digestion and preventing anaemia. It could also lower harmful cholesterol and protect against heart disease.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Living in Spain we should all be well aware of the benefits of extra virgin olive oil – a staple of the Mediterranean diet. But here’s a little reminder of why it is so good. It is packed with antioxidants that ward off cell damage from free radicals and fight inflammation. It contains vitamins E and K and has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol. Use liberally as a dressing and butter substitute.