With all of the fat free and low fat options available, it can be easy to forget that some fats are actually beneficial to your diet. While this doesn’t mean that you should go out tomorrow and buy a tub of lard to begin cooking all of your foods in, it does mean that you should learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats, and begin incorporating the healthy ones into your regular diet. Our brains are comprised mostly of fat, so it stands to reason that they need dietary fat to function properly. Here are the three types of fat that you should be consuming, and why.
Saturated fats get their name because chemically, they are saturated with hydrogen molecules, leaving no carbons to be double bonded. They get a bad rep because consuming them can lead to body fat accumulation and heart problems. Research shows that foods containing high levels of saturated fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. This research is the reason that so many people avoid this type of fat.
While limiting LDL cholesterol causing saturated fats is a good idea for the health of your heart, cutting them out completely can be bad for the health of your brain. The Mayo Clinic researchers performed a study showing that individuals who consumed the most saturated fat in their regular diets were 36% less likely to develop dementia. Further studies show that they are also beneficial to your liver, hormones, and immune system.
Monounsaturated Fats & Polyunsaturated Fats
Both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are essential to proper brain functioning. Studies show that eating large amounts of polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids) may reduce the risk of developing major depression, anxiety, and stress.
Unfortunately our body is unable to produce omega-6’s and omega-3’s, so we need to make sure that we are getting a healthy dose of these essential fatty acids on a daily basis through the foods that we eat. One way of making sure that you’re getting enough of these vital fatty acids is to follow a ketogenic diet, by reducing your carbohydrate intake, and increasing your fats.
Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA as it’s more commonly referred to as, is an omega-3 fatty acid most commonly found in oily fishes such as mackerel, salmon, trout, and sardines. DHA is highly unsaturated, which makes it very flexible. This helps brain cells communicate more rapidly with one another, resulting in a healthier synapse and faster recall of information.
DHA is vital to the development of a baby’s eyes, brain, and heart especially during the last three months of pregnancy, and immediately following their birth. This is why many infant formulas are made with DHA. A diet rich in DHA is also beneficial to children and adults of all ages, because it has been shown to increase brain functions, improve depression, and reduce the effects of ADHD.
Sources Of Healthy Fats
Avocados contain 77% (monounsaturated) fat by calories, which means that they are higher in fat than most foods from animals. They are also a great source of potassium and fiber that have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol.
Cheese is high in healthy fats. It takes a full glass of milk to produce a single thick slice of cheese. Containing the same nutrients as a glass of milk, cheese is high in protein, fatty acids, and calcium, making it a healthy choice that also happens to be very filling.
The fat content of dark chocolate makes up 65% of the calories, making it a high fat snack that also happens to taste great. It is packed with more healthy antioxidants than most foods, and contains 50% of the recommended daily allowance of Iron, Copper, and Magnesium, while also providing your body with fiber. Dark chocolate that is made from 70% cocoa is ideal.
Although egg yolks contain cholesterol, they don’t actually affect the cholesterol in the blood. That means that they are one of the most nutritiously dense foods available. Whole eggs contain small amounts of just about every nutrient that our bodies need. Despite the fact that they contain healthy fats they are a great food choice for weight loss because they are packed with protein and incredibly filling.
Fatty fish, or oily fish, like salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel contain healthy fatty acids like omega-3’s and omega-6’s. It’s important to get incorporate these in your diet because your body cannot produce these fatty acids, but needs them to stay healthy. They help to lower the risk of depression, dementia, and heart disease.
Not only are nuts packed with healthy fats, they are also a good source of plant-based protein. Almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, and walnuts are among some of the healthiest nuts. They help protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, as well as lower the risk of numerous other diseases.
Most of the carbohydrates in chia seeds are fiber, which means that most of the calories actually come from fat, as a single ounce of them contains nine grams of fat. Because most of these healthy fats are omega-3’s chia seeds are known for their healthy benefits. They may help to reduce inflammation and lower your blood pressure, while increasing your overall nutrient intake.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
There are many healthy fats and healthy oils that can be added to your diet, but extra virgin olive oil may just be the most beneficial choice. With plenty of antioxidants and vitamins, cooking with extra virgin olive oil may be one of the easiest ways to lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, while reducing your risk for heart disease.
Coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat, and yet those who consume high levels of coconut oil are more often than not, in great shape. This is because the saturated fats in coconut oil are medium-chain fatty acids, which are metabolized differently suppressing the appetite and boosting metabolism.
Full Fat Yogurt
Any full fat dairy product is healthy for you because they are packed with protein, calcium, and other important nutrients, but yogurt may be even healthier than the rest because it also has probiotic bacteria. Eating full fat yogurt on a regular basis can improve your digestive health while it fights obesity and heart disease.
Make the most of your meals, by making sure that what you’re eating is the best possible option for your health. Simplify this process by meal prepping at the start of every week, so that you don’t have to worry about cooking, but you can still enjoy healthy, home cooked meals everyday.
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