It is a myth that fats only pile up to give you a plump look. This happens only in cases when you have consumed more fat than needed. Just the way that proteins, minerals, calcium and vitamins are essential for your body, so are fats. Some of the reasons why fats are beneficial to your body include:
- Fats are an excellent source of energy, even more than carbohydrates and proteins. 1 gram of fat gives you 9 calories of energy.
- Fats store energy in your body. During fasting or strenuous workout sessions, fats burn into energy to give you strength.
- Some vitamins like vitamin A, D, E & K are fat soluble. Fat makes it easy for these vitamins to be absorbed by the intestine.
- Fats also help in building healthy body cells. They act as a protective sheath to each and every cell. Not only body cells, but fats also help in the proper development of brain cells.
- Fat regulates body temperature.
- Fat adds a shine and glow to your skin making it look healthy. It also gives you healthy hair.
- Fats protect some very vital organs of your body like heart, kidneys and intestines. They form a layer around these organs and act as a cushion supporting them from any sort of injury.
There are three types of fats found in food:
- Saturated fatty acids (SFAs)
- Trans-saturated fatty acids
- Unsaturated fatty acids – This is divided into monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Both saturated fats and trans-saturated fats are unhealthy fats which are mainly harmful for your body.
Other than adding weight, they also increase cholesterol level, which may result in many heart diseases and strokes (1).
Butter, hard cheese, cream, cookies, cakes, coconut milk, and fried foods are sources of saturated fat.
Mono-unsaturated and Poly-unsaturated fats exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and are good for your health.
They lower your blood cholesterol level, have anti-inflammatory properties, and also prevent blood clotting (3).
Poly-unsaturated fatty acids can again be classified into omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Both these fatty acids should be essentially available in your regular diet for maintaining a proper health.
Sources Of Healthy Fats:
In order to add good fat to your body, you need to know what to consume. Here is a list of the various sources of healthy fats that you should look to incorporate in your diet:
1. Almonds, Nuts and Seeds:
Almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts are a very rich source of omega 3 fatty acids that are also found in fish and are actually good for your health. They add to the good cholesterol level.
- Each time you feel hungry between meals, try and have a fistful of nuts instead of biscuits, cakes, pastries or cereal bars.
- Nuts will keep you full for a longer time as well as also add to your health.
- Flax seeds are a rich source of omega 3 fats. You can have these seeds whole or ground them to fine powder and store them in an air-tight container.
- Sprinkle on top of your favourite smoothies or mix with milk. This is the healthiest and the best source of fat.
2. Plant Oils:
Vegetable oil, olive oil, sunflower oil or canola oil are very rich and healthy source of fat in food.
- Use these oils whenever cooking (except olive oil as it is best to consume it raw). Use a teaspoon of oil for each person you are cooking for.
- You may also use a small spoonful or two in your salad dressing.
- If you love having ghee, try having homemade ghee. They are much healthier than those bought from the market.
3. Soya beans:
Soya beans are a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids which reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases
Mayonnaise is also a very good source of unsaturated fat.
- Always check the label before buying.
- Spreading cheese or butter on your sandwiches can be replaced by mayonnaise.
Tofu is cottage cheese or paneer that is made from soy milk. It tastes almost the same as paneer that is made from milk. It is one of the best sources of fat, especially polyunsaturated fats that may regulate blood sugar levels.
6. Soy Milk:
This is another good source of polyunsaturated fat that may improve the symptoms of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.
Corn oil is also a good source of unsaturated fat which may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
8. Avocados and Olives:
Avocados and olives contain a good amount of mono-unsaturated fats which may protect against heart diseases.
- Have half an avocado per day. They are good for your heart and also improve your memory.
- The green soft flesh of avocado is rich in unsaturated fat.
- Mash avocados as sandwich dressing, in salads or even consumed raw with a pinch of salt and pepper as a healthy and yummy treat.
- Olives are also heart-friendly fruits with monounsaturated fat. They help in lowering your cholesterol level.
- 100 grams of olives contain just 15 grams of fat.
- Include olives in your salad or have it in your pasta toppings.
Vegetables are generally fat-free. But cooking and frying makes vegetables rich in fats, which are unhealthy.
- Prepare veggies by baking, brushing just a little olive oil, or you may also stir-fry veggies.