Healthy Fats And What They Can Do For Your Diet
Despite their reputation, dietary fats are just as necessary in the human diet as protein and carbohydrates. Throughout the years, and especially during the 90s and the early 2000s, fad diets made fat the enemy and encouraged people to reduce their fat consumption as much as possible. Healthy fats are a crucial part of living well on a plant-based diet, so read on to see what PlantX has to say about how healthy fats can fit your routine.
Saturated and Trans Fats
Dietary fats come in many different types. As our knowledge of nutrition has developed, we’ve learned that some fats are more harmful to our bodies than others. These unhealthy fats are called saturated and trans fats, or trans fatty acids. Saturated fats are commonly found in animal fats and can also be found in dairy products or fatty meats. If you’re plant-based or vegan, you might think you’re safe from saturated fats. However, you can also find saturated fats in vegan products like coconut oil, cocoa butter, and palm oil. Trans fatty acids are found wherever you see “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.” Common trans-fat-containing foods are margarine and vegetable shortening (and baked goods using them), processed snack foods like crackers and microwave popcorn, and fried foods.
Saturated fats and trans fats have both been shown to increase the risk of hazardous health conditions. They can raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, which is considered “bad” cholesterol. Saturated fats have been linked to increased risks of heart disease, while trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of inflammation that may lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Healthy Fat Sources
Now that you’ve been informed of what “bad fats” are and what foods contain them, you should know about “good fats.” Fats that are considered heart-healthy are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and usually stay as liquids at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats are found in many vegan-friendly foods like nuts and nut butter, vegetable oil, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are also called “essential fats” because they contain elements that can’t be produced by the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of these elements in polyunsaturated fats, and these are found in:
- Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and sardines
- Flaxseeds, canola oil, and walnuts
Polyunsaturated fats also include omega-6 fatty acids in foods like:
- Tofu and other soy products
- Vegetable oils like corn oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil
- Seeds like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds and butter made from them
- Liquid or soft margarine
These good fats have shown to lower blood pressure levels, regulate the heartbeat, and decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. Research on these healthy fats has also shown that they can improve your general blood cholesterol level. Interested in seeing how you can add plant-based proteins to your diet with these healthy fats? Check out our blog on the topic!