Gone are the days when we assume that having any fat in our diets is inherently a bad thing. Through the years and through extensive research, we now know that fats actually play an important role in the function of the body; they help insulate our organs, as well as make the absorption of vitamins easier.
Thus they should definitely be included in our diets, and not simply for their role in bodily function. Things just taste better when they are made using some sort of fat. It adds depth of flavor, and has a wonderful effect on the texture of food.
The question is, though, which vegan fats are the ones we should incorporate into our meals? There are obviously some fats that are better than others, the “good” fats; which are they? What exactly makes them healthy? What are some simple ways to add these fats to our diets? Don’t worry, all will be revealed!
What Are The Benefits Of Plant-Based Fats?
Did you know that the brain is nearly 60% fat? When it comes to neurological function, fat is a major player and so it is important for us to know what kinds of fats we put in our bodies. Now, why plant-based fats? Well, the answer is simple really: most healthy fats do come from plant-based sources: fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds and their derivatives.
While it is true that a lot of fish, like salmon and tuna, are also a good source of healthy fats, with plant-based fats, you will find a wide range of nutrient-rich, unrefined options without having to step into the animal kingdom. We’re all about the vegan lifestyle after all!
Plant-based fats are overall a much better choice. They will contain more nutrients, including vitamins, as well as the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids the body needs. These fats are more natural and generally much easier to absorb. If you get your monounsaturated fats from vegan sources, you may even live a bit longer!
Here is our list of healthy plant-based fats:
Probably the first thing anyone thinks of when the words “healthy fats” are uttered. Chock full of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid considered a powerful anti-inflammatory, avocados could also help lower bad cholesterol. They also offer 20 vitamins and minerals, and due to their high-fat content, have a very pleasant creamy texture. This and their mild flavor make it a very easy and versatile plant-based fat to add to a diet. Enjoy it for breakfast on a slice of toast or as part of a smoothie, or later in the day as a component to a salad, or simply whip up classic guacamole. For an extra special treat, here’s a recipe for plant-based avocado sushi!
Used in abundance in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is probably one of the most, if not the most, popular oils in the world. Olive oil boasts quite a few fatty acids, including omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, though it is oleic acid that is the most prominent. It doesn’t really matter which type you get, be it virgin, extra virgin, or just plain olive oil, as they are all high in monounsaturated fats. Olive oil also contains vitamin K and E. You can totally cook with it too with no fear, as heating it won’t change its fat composition and thus make it unhealthy. Olive oil can be used in all sorts of ways be it cooking or baking, but our favorite is the base for a delicious salad dressing.
Now entering the world of nuts. Nuts overall are a great source of fat and one of the best ways to incorporate plant-based fats into your diet. Walnuts, however, are one of the best of the bunch due to their being rich in unsaturated fats. They also generally contain a wealth of good things, including protein, omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, and other minerals and nutrients. Walnuts, and nuts as a whole, could help lower bad cholesterol and would be altogether beneficial to your heart health if eaten in moderation of course. You can have too much of a good thing. Wonderfully nutty, crunchy, and versatile, walnuts are probably the easiest plant-based fat on this list to include in your diet. Sprinkle a handful into your morning vegan yogurt, and give your salad or soup an added crunch. You certainly won’t regret it. If you are an avid coffee drinker, this could become a real favorite.
In the rise and popularity of superfoods, chia seeds have become a true household name. And with good reason too: though all seeds are a source of healthy fat and nutritious, these little beauties have taken it to another level. Not only are they full of fiber, protein, and minerals, but they are also particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, which means they are the perfect, plant-based way to get those fatty acids that fish like salmon is so rich in. And let’s face it, chia seeds are much more palatable and versatile than salmon! Take care though, despite their overall nutritional benefits, chia seeds are not a magic ingredient in weight loss. Make sure to eat them in small quantities, for tiny they may be, they are also mighty. Add them to a delicious smoothie, or sprinkle them on your morning oatmeal, or a lovely refreshing salad. Here’s a wonderful recipe for a stunning, chia seed-y breakfast.
Last but certainly not least, our second member of the seed family: flax seeds. Another tiny seed that really packs a healthy punch. Flax seeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that our bodies do not produce on their own, which is why we need to get it from our foods. That’s not all, flaxseeds are also full of vital nutrients, including fiber, protein, magnesium, vitamin B6 and iron. Flax seeds can also boast a whole host of other health benefits, including the reduction of blood pressure. The best part is it is super easy to include these babies into your diets. Though it is best consumed ground up as it is much easier for them to be digested, you can totally enjoy them whole or as oil. Much like the chia seeds above, flax seeds can be enjoyed sprinkled on some oatmeal or vegan yogurt, in a salad, or blended into a smoothie. They are also used in this amazing recipe for a post-workout snack!
It is vitally important for the proper functionality of the body to include healthy fats in our diets. The five listed above are not only the best sources of plant-based fats, but can also be used to create delicious dishes, be they savory or sweet, and for any time of day. This surely makes adding them to your diet all the more tempting. Don’t shy away from them, our body needs them. If you want to learn more about good and bad fats, check out this!