Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are both healthy fats. Fatty fish, olive oil, and chia seeds are some of the best sources of healthy fats, but there are many others.
Including healthy fats in a meal creates a sense of fullness, slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, and adds flavor to food. Healthy fats can also aid hormone function, memory, and the absorption of specific nutrients.
Read on to discover the best sources of these fats and learn the difference between healthful and unhealthful fats.
Fatty fish contain large amounts of unsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in heart and brain health. The
Both fresh and canned fish products are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Canned tuna, mackerel, and other products can help those with limited access to fresh produce get ample omega-3 in their diet.
Although they are small in size, chia seeds are rich in several nutrients. A
Omega-3 may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and reduce triglycerides in the blood, according to the
Research also suggests that supplementing a healthful diet with chia seeds may lower blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Chia seeds also provide antioxidants, fiber, protein, iron, and calcium.
Dark chocolate also contains flavonoid antioxidants, which can have cognitive and cardiovascular benefits.
However, 24.5 g of this fat content is saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends people limit their daily intake of saturated fat to
In addition, 100 g of 70–85% dark chocolate can also contain 24 g of added sugar, so it is important to enjoy this food in moderation.
Learn more about the health benefits of dark chocolate here.
Eggs are a popular source of protein, especially for vegetarians. One
Egg yolk contains vitamin D and choline, a B vitamin that
A 2018 study carried out on Chinese adults, for example, reported that up to 1 egg a day might lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Half a medium avocado, which is typically around
Oleic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and may play a role in cancer prevention.
Avocados are also high in fiber, with half a medium avocado providing 6.7 g of the recommended
Flaxseed provide omega-3 fatty acids and a healthful dose of fiber simultaneously. Flaxseed contain
The fiber content can increase the feeling of fullness and may reduce cholesterol. Flaxseed are also rich in lignans, a plant compound with antioxidant effects.
Research suggests that flaxseed can help lower cholesterol, prevent high blood pressure, and regulate heart rhythm.
Nuts have many benefits, according to several studies. They are rich in healthful fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytosterols that
A 5-year study of more than 373,000 people, published in the “European Journal of Nutrition,” reported that people who eat nuts regularly are less likely to gain weight or become overweight or obese in the long term.
There is approximately
A person can use nut butter to enjoy the benefits of nuts and seeds in a spreadable form. Each serving provides a healthful amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
However, these butters can be high in calories, so it is important to check the nutritional details of individual products before adding them to a balanced diet.
For example, some peanut butters can contain more than
Learn more about the differences between popular nut butters here.
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olives provide around
Research reports that a compound in olives called oleuropein may help prevent diabetes. Researchers found that oleuropein helped the body secrete more insulin while also preventing the cytotoxic actions of a molecule called amylin amyloid that contributes to diabetes development.
Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fats that are good for heart health. It also contains vitamin E, vitamin K, and potent antioxidants. On average,
Tofu is a complete plant protein and a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A
Full-fat natural yogurt contains good probiotic bacteria to support gut function. Regularly eating yogurt may
However, there is debate about the benefits of full fat yogurt in comparison to low fat options.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are healthful fats that can:
- benefit the heart
- lower LDL cholesterol
- improve insulin levels
- improve blood glucose levels
MUFAs and PUFAs also fight inflammation.
The two most well-known PUFAs are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are essential fats that people must get from the food they eat because the body cannot make them.
As a general rule, healthful fats — such as olive oil — are liquid at room temperature.
By contrast, people often consider saturated fats and trans fats unhealthful fats. Foods rich in these substances, such as butter and lard, are often solid at room temperature.
Artificial trans fats, which often appear on labels as partially hydrogenated oils, are also unhealthful. They trigger inflammation that may increase the risk of:
- heart disease
- many other health conditions.
Even just a
The following foods contain trans fats:
- fried foods
- frozen foods, such as pizzas and pies
- baked goods
- some margarines
- highly processed snack foods
Fat is one of the three essential macronutrients the body needs, along with carbohydrates and protein. A balanced diet should include healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Some of the best sources of these fatty acids include avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. People should also be sure to limit the amount of saturated fat in the diet to less than 10% of total calories.