Fats are an important part of our diet, but not all fats have the same effects on health. While good fats can lower cholesterol levels, boost brain function and support satiety, filling up on unhealthy fats can contribute to chronic disease and weight gain.
A good rule of thumb is to steer clear of highly processed fats full of additives and unhealthy ingredients. Refined vegetable oils, processed meats and snack foods like chips, crackers and baked goods are generally high in disease-causing, artery-clogging trans fats that should be avoided at all costs.
The key for finding healthy fats to eat is to look for ingredients that are unprocessed and naturally high in fats. Avocados, full-fat dairy, olive oil and fatty fish are just a few foods with healthy fats that can help benefit your health.
Saturated fat vs unsaturated fat
Healthy fatty acids can be broken down into two main categories: unsaturated fats and saturated fats. The saturated fat definition includes fatty acids without double bonds. Saturated fat foods include ingredients like butter, coconut oil and dairy products. Although once considered unhealthy and artery-clogging, more and more research has shown that saturated fats can be included as part of a healing diet in moderation.
Meanwhile, the official unsaturated fat definition encompasses any type of fatty acid that contains at least one double bond within the chain. These fatty acids are further classified as either a monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat based on the number of double bonds they contain. Unsaturated fats can include foods like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish.
Unlike saturated fats, the benefits of unsaturated fats have long been established. Studies show that unsaturated fatty acids can help promote weight loss, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease.
Best healthy fats for our body
- Rich in monounsaturated fats. Help raise levels of good cholesterol and lowering the bad.
- Rich in vitamin E that help boost immunity
- Good source of folate (B9)
Butter and ghee (clarified butter)
- Full of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Good for brain and skin health
- Rich in fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals
- Ghee is better for cooking at high temperatures
- Rich in easy digestible medium-chain fatty acids
- Small so infuse cells with energy quickly
- Not readily stored by the body as fat
- Improve brain and memory function.
Extra virgin olive oil
- High levels of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants
- Boosts heart health, memory, and cognitive function
- Not recommended for cooking at high temperatures.
- Preferred sources are DHA and EPA, found in seafood like salmon and sardines
- Supplements with cod liver oil
- Get at least 1000 mg a day of EPA/DHA and 3000- 4000 mg of total omega-3s (ALA/EPA/DHA combined)
Nuts and seeds
- Rich in ALA omega 3 fats
- Helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Walnuts and almonds, best nuts
- Flaxseeds and chia seeds, top seeds.
- Good source of protein, with full amino acid profile
- Can lower cholesterol while improving heart health
- Can reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome
- Medium-Chain triglyserids
- Easily digested and sent to the liver. Good for the metabolism.
- Use in dressings, smoothies and even coffee
- Yoghurt contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, proteins, and probiotics
- Raw milk keeps intact all the vitamins, minerals, and natural enzymes
- Goat milk is easily digestible by the body and is a good option for those with gastrointestinal problems.
Written by: Anna Ingwardo, Bachelor of Nutritional Physiology from Atlantis Medical College in Oslo.
Since 2008, she has worked as a nutritionist at Dr Fedon Lindberg’s clinic in Oslo. Anna is particularly interested in functional medical principles and has immersed herself in the treatment of digestive-related imbalances and ailments, food hypersensitivity and leaky gut. She has also expertise in the treatment of other lifestyle-related conditions such as obesity / overweight, insulin resistance / diabetes and other hormone-related imbalances in the body. Anna is the co-author of 3 books dealing with obesity and indigestion.