Get the Facts on Fats
Fats usually have a bad rap; you’ve probably been told that if you eat fat, you’ll get fat. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are different kinds of fats, good and bad, and your body needs dietary fat to function properly. Healthy fats are essential for your body to regulate hunger hormones, protect against heart disease, increase satiety, transport nutrients, and improve your fat-soluble vitamin intake. To help you choose the right fats, we’ve made a list of foods that contain healthy fats you should include in your diet.
Yes, leafy greens contain essential fats! Essential fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which your body cannot produce on its own. These fats are essential for the normal functioning of tissues throughout your body. Up your intake by adding mixed green salads to your meal, blending a handful of spinach into your smoothie or protein shake, or try cooking greens for a different texture.
Red meat contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that helps improve heart health and reduce belly fat but be sure to swap factory-farmed meat with grass-fed meat, like grass-fed beef or lamb. Grass-fed meat is higher in CLA, stearic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids (all healthy fats your body needs) compared to factory-farmed meat. Including small amounts of grass-fed meat in your diet can also help you trim your waistline, as it is naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat.
This wonder fruit is packed with monounsaturated fats that contain oleic acid. This type of fat increases satiety (keeps you feeling full), helps your body maintain healthy cholesterol levels, decreases inflammation, and lowers your risk of developing heart disease. Avocados are also high in dietary fiber, which will improve your digestive system and help with weight loss.
Wild-caught fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week to get the full amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s decrease triglyceride levels, can lower blood pressure, and can reduce the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). The best fish to include for these health benefits are pink salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and trout.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based essential omega-3 fatty acid that is only obtained through the diet. This fat can aid in weight loss and weight management, may reduce the risk of heart disease by promoting blood vessel health and reducing inflammation, and can enhance fat-burning and decrease hunger levels. Amp up your omega-3 intake by adding walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp, flax, and chia seeds to your diet. Try them in smoothies, trail mix, or as a nut butter.
There are many different types of oils, and not all have the same health benefits. Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils as it is rich in cancer-fighting polyphenols and heart-strengthening monounsaturated fats, including oleic acid. An olive oil-rich diet has been shown to have high levels of adiponectin, a hormone responsible for breaking down fats in the body. The more you have of this hormone, the lower your BMI tends to be. Another healthy oil is from coconut. Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, most of it comes from lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride that improves cholesterol, fights bacteria, reduces abdominal fat, and increases energy expenditure. Coconut oil is also best for high-heat cooking. Avoid using refined oils like vegetable, soybean, canola, and safflower.
The reality is not all fats are created equal. Incorporating food that contains healthy fats can offer you a variety of health benefits, from keeping your heart healthy to aiding in weight loss. Like all food, these healthy fats should be eaten in moderation.
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