Hearing the word “fat” when selecting food can be a red flag for many. If you like to avoid fats while dining, you need to remember that fats are a macronutrient you need to survive. Though it is true that eating the “wrong” fats can lead to certain health complications (1), there are plenty of excellent sources of healthy fats available. All you need to do is explore a few of these options and see which seem the most appealing to your palate!
1. Canola Oil
One of the biggest challenges to healthy eating is learning what oils are best to cook with. While there has been a lot of debate over the years about what oils are “healthy” and what oils are bound to do damage to your body, most experts have agreed that canola oil is a solid choice. When you’re cooking, you mostly want to avoid too many saturated fats (2, 3). Since canola oil is rich in unsaturated fats, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration verified that using this oil could actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications (4).
Canola oil has a high smoke point, allowing you to cook at very high temperatures without worrying about ruining the oil. Unfortunately, canola oil is not going to work for everything. While great for cooking, you might find it lacking in taste for fresh options like salad dressing or to dip bread. Luckily, there are some wonderful salad dressing options on the market to keep your taste buds satisfied.
Canola oil can also be tricky because the products often contain GMOs, which are a huge “no-no” for many. To play it safe when purchasing canola oil, be sure to confirm that the product is labeled non-GMO or organic.
The avocado gets a lot of weird press, being the unofficial symbol thrust upon millennials. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the popularity of the avocado is on the rise. The beauty of eating a diet that consists of avocado is that there is a lot of evidence to suggest you’re improving your health with each bite into the rich, green fruit (5).
Avocado’s simple taste and complex consistency make it a great addition to a number of dishes. Since avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are the “good” fats you hear about, adding this fruit to your diet is a smart move (6). If you don’t particularly like avocado, you can consider using products made with avocado oil to get the benefits.
3. Peanut Butter
Barring a serious allergy, you probably have had a peanut butter sandwich or two in your day. Plenty of people slather peanut butter on apples or sandwiches for lunch because the creamy mixture is an excellent source of protein (7), which can be useful when hitting the gym. Beyond this punch of protein, peanuts contain plenty of healthy fats to keep your diet balanced (8).
It is important to note that you shouldn’t opt for peanut butter brands that are marketed as low-fat. When the fat content is reduced in peanut butter, it is usually replaced with sugars. This can work against your current health plan, so be sure to go for standard or organic peanut butter options with lots of monounsaturated fats.
Seed enthusiasts, rejoice! While the tiny nature of most seeds makes them seem somewhat innocuous, there are plenty of secret benefits hiding beneath the small shell (9). Flaxseed, for example, is said to contain copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. While fish like salmon are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, vegetarians and vegans often need healthy alternatives. Whether or not you eat meat, you might find it appealing to learn that flaxseed helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels (10).
What’s more, you don’t technically need to eat flaxseed in its raw form to obtain the benefits. Opting to use flaxseed meal while cooking or baking can provide you with the right level of fatty acids to keep your heart healthy and happy.
Even though many people get nervous when they hear that their foods are rich in fatty acids, it is important to remember you need fats to survive. Get your daily dose of monounsaturated fats and keep your health on the right course.