For years, you’ve been told that you need to eliminate fat from your diet. And while there is certainly value in eliminating unhealthy fats, the reality is that many fats are vital to your health, nutrition, and well-being. In light of this, you may need to increase your healthy fat intake.
Good vs. Bad Fat
Fat gets a really bad rap. Obviously some of the reputation is earned. Medical research continues to show that fat plays a major role in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and even some cancers. But not all fats are created equal. In fact, you need good fat intake in order to functional properly.
“Fat is as essential to your diet as protein and carbohydrates are in fueling your body with energy,” Healthline explains. “Certain bodily functions also rely on the presence of fat. For example, some vitamins require fat in order to dissolve into your bloodstream and provide nutrients.”
On the other hand, fat from excess calories can lead to weight gain, which brings on a host of other health issues. All foods contain some amount of fat, but it’s the type of fat they contain that makes the difference between good and bad.
Saturated fat and trans fat is what you want to stay away from. These fats are found in all kinds of food, including butter, beef, ice cream, cookies, and highly processed foods.
“Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are considered more ‘heart-healthy’ fats, which you should include in your diet in moderation,” Healthline notes.
Health fats provide a whole host of benefits, including cardiovascular protection, improved body composition, alleviation of depression, preserved memory, better eye health, and possibly cancer prevention.
“For this reason, balancing our fat intake can promote optimal functioning of our entire body,” writes Ryan Andrews of PrecisionNutrition. “Therefore it’s important that we emphasize whole food fat sources in our diets, and supplement as necessary.”
4 Ways to Increase Your Health Fat Intake
Because you’ve been told for so long to avoid fat, you probably don’t know how to properly balance your fat intake and consume healthy fats that benefit your body.
Here are some foods you should eat more of:
Avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. In addition to containing lots of free radical-fighting vitamin E, these tasty, green fruits are rich in monounsaturated fats. This helps you lower bad cholesterol, while raising good levels. If you’re unsure of how to incorporate avocado into your diet, these healthy recipes will give some ideas.
- Almond Butter
Who doesn’t love peanut butter? Whether it’s on sandwich bread or fruit, it’s a staple item in most pantries. But if you want a more nutritious alternative, almond butter is your best bet.
According to David Perkins, Founder of Beetnik Foods, “Almond butter contains roughly 25 percent more healthy fats than peanut butter, while also containing twice as much iron and vitamin E (and seven-times more calcium).”
- Coconut Oil
Instead of using cheap spray cooking oils, incorporate coconut oil into your diet. It’s rich in good fats that are easily digestible and not readily stored by the body. It helps with brain and memory function and can be a good anti-inflammatory food for arthritis.
Another bonus to having coconut oil around the house is that it can be used on skin and hair. It really is one of the most versatile food items you can have in the house.
Instead of reaching for pretzels or potato chips for an afternoon snack, opt for nuts instead. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and cashews…they’re all high in good fat, magnesium, and vitamin E. They also do a good job of satisfying hunger. A handful once a day will provide numerous benefits.
Eat a Balanced Diet
A healthy, nutritious diet is all about balance. Whether it’s fat, sugar, vitamins, or nutrients, moderation is key. Gather your health advice from multiple sources and listen to your body. By eating well, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and caring for your mental health, you stand a greater chance of fighting of disease and being happy for years to come.