If you’re still thrown off by the quick shift from low-fat-everything to the keto craze, you’re not the only one. (I’m still a little shook, tbh.)
You don’t have to go full-blown keto to reap the benefits of eating healthy fats, though.
“Healthy fats are satiating, flavourful, and necessary for so many metabolic processes,” explains nutritionist Monica Auslander Moreno, a consultant for RSP Nutrition. Plus, they often reduce the need for added sugars in food products, which is a much-needed win these days.
What’s more, your body needs fat to absorb certain nutrients — specifically vitamin A, D, E, and K — and certain fats (lookin’ at you, omega-3s) are protective against heart disease, adds nutritionist Brittany Modell.
Not all fats are created equal, though, so your Big Mac won’t help you reap all of these benefits. To make the most of healthy fats, focus your eats on lots of plant-based foods and unsaturated fats, says Modell.
Stick to whole foods as much as possible, and limit lab-made fats (like margarine and shortening), too.
Your goal: Include at least one serving of healthy fats in every snack or meal, from breakfast (avocado toast, anyone?) straight on through dinnertime, Modell says.
Here are 19 of the best healthy fats to eat, according to nutritionists.
Flax is a great source of alpha-linolenic acid, a healthy fat associated with cardiovascular health, says nutritionist Gena Hamshaw, author of The Full Helping.
Hamshaw uses ground flaxseed (which is easier to digest) in oatmeal, smoothies, yoghurt, and baked goods.
Per 3-tbsp serving: 165 calories, 12 g fat (1 g sat), 9 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 9 mg sodium, 9 g fibre, 6 g protein
2. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish (like mackerel or salmon) is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, says Modell, who recommends consuming the stuff at least twice per week.
Her advice: Choose wild-caught over farmed salmon, when possible, for a higher dose of omega-3 fatty acids and less mercury.
Per 85-gram serving: 142 calories, 6 g fat (1 g sat), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 347 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 20 g protein
The type of fat in olives (monounsaturated) has been associated with lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and healthy HDL (good) cholesterol levels, says Hemshaw.
Toss ’em into fresh pasta dishes or rich bean or chicken stews , or enjoy them whole as an appetizer or snack.
Per serving: 60 calories, 5 g fat (1 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 404 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 1 g protein
Avocados are praised for their heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, but it’s not their only perk.
“What many people don’t realize is that they’re also high in fibre and contain more potassium than bananas,” says Kelli McGrane, a nutritionist for Lose It!.
“One of my favourite ways to use avocado is to mash it with chickpeas, lemon juice, and a little feta cheese, and serve with whole-grain crackers or on sourdough toast for an easy lunch,” she says.
Per 1/2-cup serving: 117 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g sat), 7 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 1.5 g protein
Coconut contains medium-chain triglycerides, a special type of fat that the body can use for quick fuel (and which may have anti-inflammatory effects), says Auslender Moreno.
Snack on coconut meat raw or add unsweetened shredded coconut to your favourite snacks.
Per 28-gram serving: 99 calories, 9 g fat (8 g sat), 4 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 6 mg sodium, 2.5 g fibre, 1 g protein
6. Full-fat Greek Yoghurt
Pair super-creamy full-fat yoghurt with strawberries for a balanced breakfast (or snack) that provides calcium, vitamin C, fibre, protein, and gut-healthy probiotics.
Per 3/4-cup: 165 calories, 9 g fat (4 g sat), 7 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 60 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 15 g protein
Whether you’re into walnuts, pecans, or pistachios, eating a variety of nuts is a great way to get your fill of healthy fats.
“Enjoy nuts in your oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, ground into smoothies,” says Auslander Moreno. You can also use ground nuts as “breading” on proteins.
Per 28-gram serving: 196 calories, 20 g fat (2 g sat), 4 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 3 g fibre, 3 g protein
This complete plant protein, which is made from soybeans, also happens to provide healthy fats, according to Taub-Dix.
She recommends cutting tofu into cubes, marinating it in your favourite seasonings, and baking or sautéing with veggies. (Bonus points for opting for the firm variety, which contains the most calcium.)
Per 1-cup serving: 151 calories, 9 g fat (1 g sat), 3 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 2- mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 18 g protein
Like tofu, plain old soybeans provide protein, fibre, calcium, and healthy fats, according to Taub-Dix.
Munch on steamed or dried edamame as an afternoon pick-me-up to keep you feeling full until dinner.
Per 1-cup serving: 188 calories, 8 g fat (1 g sat), 14 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 9 mg sodium, 8 g fibre, 19 g protein
10. Pumpkin seeds
In addition to healthy unsaturated fats, pumpkin seeds are a good source of phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, vitamin K, and zinc.
Add pumpkin seeds to anything that needs a little heart-healthy crunch, whether a salad or a yoghurt bowl.
Per 28-gram serving: 163 calories, 14 g fat (2 g sat), 4 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 8 g protein
Because chicken breast is quite low in fat (and, let’s be honest, taste), Auslender Moreno likes using darker, fattier thigh meat.
“Think of it as a blank slate and season accordingly,” says Modell. “Experiment with different marinades to add even more flavour.”
Per chicken thigh: 180 calories, 6 g fat (2 g sat), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 142 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 29 g protein
12. Chia seeds
Thanks to their healthy fats and loads of minerals, chia seeds are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, says McGrane.
“Sprinkle them over yoghurt and salads, or add them to smoothies and overnight oats,” she recommends.
Per 28-gram serving: 138 calories, 9 g fat (1 g sat), 12 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 10 g fibre, 5 g protein
13. Nut butter
While specific nutrients vary, nut butters guarantee a solid dose of protein, healthy fats, and fibre, according to Taub-Dix.
“Go for those that contain only nuts and check labels to limit additional fats, sugars, and salt,” she recommends.
Incorporate more healthy fats into your breakfasts by swirling a spoonful or two of nut butter into your oatmeal.
Per 2-tbsp serving: 196 calories, 18 g fat (2 g sat), 6 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 73 mg sodium, 3 g fibre, 7 g protein
14. Hemp hearts
Hamshaw loves hemp hearts because they’re rich in protein, in addition to healthy fats, making them great for plant-based eaters.
She adds hemp hearts to breakfast cereals, blends them up into creamy dressings, and sprinkles them on top of salads.
Per 3-tbsp serving: 166 calories, 16 g fat (1 g sat), 3 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 10 g protein
15. Grass-fed steak
Grass-fed beef, which comes from cows who eat grass instead of grains, contains more heart-healthy omega-3s, says Auslender Moreno.
Enjoy grass-fed beef in a stir-fry with your favourite vegetables.
Per 113-gram serving: 224 calories, 14 g fat (6 g sat), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 77 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 22 g protein
16. Sunflower seeds
With loads of vitamin E and selenium, heart-healthy sunflower seeds are a particularly great option if you have a tree nut allergy, says Taub-Dix.
“Mix them into tuna or chicken salad, or to add crunch to deviled eggs,” she recommends.
Per 28-gram serving: 165 calories, 14 g fat (2 g sat), 7 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 1 mg sodium, 3 g fibre, 6 g protein
Beyond their satiating fat and protein content, eggs also provide antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two carotenoids essential for eye health, says Modell.
Scramble eggs up with a side of avocado for a satiating morning meal, or make breakfast tacos with salsa for dinner.
Per large egg: 74 calories, 5 g fat (2 g sat), 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 65 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 6 g protein
18. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds pack a serious dose of protein, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats, according to Taub-Dix. Plus, their fibre content supports healthy cholesterol.
Taub-Dix recommends mixing black and white sesame seeds to make a coating for chicken or fish, or a colourful addition to veggie dishes.
Per 28-gram serving: 159 calories, 13 g fat (2 g sat), 7 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 11 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 5 g protein
19. Pine nuts
Technically seeds, pine nuts are an often-overlooked source of healthy fats. Until now, that is.
Make your own pesto by throwing a handful of pine nuts in the food processor with fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive or avocado oil, and a touch of salt.
Per 28-gram serving: 188 calories, 19 g fat (1 g sat), 4 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 1 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 4 g protein
The article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com