With the war on fat a lingering remnant of the past, it’s time to prioritise these gut and heart-healthy nutrients. Here’s why you need healthy fats in your diet, plus 5 foods to get your dose of these essential fats.
With dangerous misinformation about fat – with countless dairy brands putting forward low-fat, high-sugar alternatives, along with diets and media dragging fat through the mud – it’s no wonder 41% of people were unaware of the essential nature of fatty acids in this survey. But these fats are actually essential to our survival – here’s why.
Healthy fats play a number of roles, not limited to the following:
- Helping us absorb vitamins A, E, D and K
- Promoting a healthy gut
- Regulating bowel movements
- Boosting brain health
- Boosting skin, hair and nail health
- Managing hunger signals
While you may want to keep the trans fats to a minimum – think deep-fried food, commercial cakes and fast food – there are a number of healthy fats we require. Take a look at some of the foods boasting sizeable quantities of these fats.
These tasty seeds – yep, cashews are technically a seed, not a nut – are packed with healthy fats, owing 62% of their fat content to heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and 18% to polyunsaturated fats. This is a good balance, especially considering monounsaturated fats help reduce cholesterol in our blood, along with lowering our risk for weight gain and heart disease. Cashews are also packed with protein and fibre, making them a triple threat to fight fatigue, cravings and frequent hunger. They boast 5 grams of protein per serve, which is essential for satiety, muscle health and balanced hunger hormones. Plus, their fibre content also helps support a healthy gut by slowing our absorption of sugars, along with preventing constipation.
This dip is brimming with healthy fats, so we thought it deserved a mention. Often made of olive oil, pine nuts, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic, this versatile dip has a range of healthy fats, from omega 9s in olive oil to the monounsaturated fats in the pine nuts and tahini, there’s a lot to love about hummus. The olive oil is rich in oleic acid, which studies have found prevents insulin resistance and reduces the risk for heart disease. The pine nuts are also an exceptional source of a healthy fat known as pinolenic acid, which has been found to lower cholesterol levels. So, whichever way you look at it, you’re bound to get a dose of healthy fats from this classic dip – add some falafel and cucumber and you’ve got yourself a delicious, nutritious snack.
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, boasting exceptional vitamin and mineral content for their small size – they’re also incredibly versatile and easily added to rice dishes, toast and sandwiches, omelettes and the classic shakshuka. But one of the most impressive things about this humble food is its healthy fat content, including omega 3, which is essential for the following:
- Brain function
- Mental clarity
- Memory function
Eggs are also rich in protein, iron and vitamin B12 – packing around 45% of our daily needs of the latter in just two eggs. Like healthy fats, this also gives us an energy boost and is essential for maintaining our red blood cells and DNA functionality.
Yoghurt and ghee
Yoghurt is a source of healthy fats, it’s rich in medium chain triglycerides which are known to keep us fuller for longer and have also been found to decrease appetite and curb sugar cravings. But, be sure to go for natural or Greek yoghurt varieties as opposed to flavoured, highly-processed yoghurts – this way you’ll maximise on healthy fats without the sugar crash. Ghee is another product in the dairy family, boasting a sizeable omega 3 fatty acid content. Studies have shown that the omegas in ghee can reduce inflammation, which improves our gut and brain health. But, like yoghurt, ghee has a number of other healthy fats, including those medium chain triglycerides that are so beneficial for satiety.
This tasty seed packs an impressive dose of healthy fats for its humble size – including monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids. Essential for hair, nail and skin health, hemp seeds are a convenient source of these nutrients – simply add them to baked goods, oatmeal, soups and salads. Hemp is also a good source of protein, and this nutrient has been found to promote muscle health, support weight loss and manage our satiety hormones, especially when we consume a protein-rich meal around brekkie time. If you’re keen to reap the benefits of these nutty seeds, hit up Grass Roots for their extensive product range, not limited to the following classics:
- Hemp hearts
- Hemp seed oil
- Hemp protein powder
They also provide cacao powder and heart-healthy chia seeds – which happen to be another source of healthy fats! Providing organic, accessible and quality food is one of the major goals of Grass Roots, so grab a pack of hemp hearts and sprinkle some over your morning oatmeal for an energy boost.
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