Previously shunned, we now recognize that healthy fats are a critical part of a wholesome diet. The saturated fats found in fatty cuts of meat and the trans fats found in fried foods, baked goods, and processed snacks can raise cholesterol levels. However, moderate consumption of the healthy, unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and vegetable oils can actually help lower your cholesterol levels and contribute to good health. If you are wondering about the benefits of healthy fats in your body, you will want to check out this list of 16 benefits of healthy fat consumption.
14. Improved Brain Health
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, herring, and tuna provide your brain with the fats needed for proper function. Furthermore, the omega-6 fatty acids in nuts and seeds may also offer brain protection. Science Daily reports that polyunsaturated fats may help prevent age-related decline in mental functions such as thinking, understanding, learning, and memory.
13. Lowered Cholesterol
In previous decades, scientists surmised that removing fat from your diet would result in lowered cholesterol levels. More recently, scientists have come to realize that healthy fats may actually help lower levels of “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream. When cooking to prevent high cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and herring. Avoid frying your fish, as this introduces an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, or obesity. Instead, choose to bake, broil, or grill your fish.
12. Lowered Blood Pressure
The DASH eating plan is a diet designed to improve heart health and lower blood pressure. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, this diet plan focuses on reducing dietary sodium and improving consumption of the macronutrients important for heart health. The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, this plan includes 2-3 daily servings of fats and oils.
11. Improved Heart Health
The Mayo Clinic reports that eating one to two servings of fish each week could prevent a heart attack. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and herring are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids that have heart-protective benefits. Other types of fish, such as cod, crab, oysters, trout, and shrimp, can be healthy choices. Avoid consuming swordfish, marlin, shark, orange roughy, and king mackerel, which may be high in mercury content.
10. Decreased Risk of Diabetes
While a high-fat diet may increase your risk of diabetes, studies suggest consuming healthy fats may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the American Diabetes Association recommends consuming healthy fats as part of a wholesome diet. Sources of healthy, monounsaturated fats include avocados, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and canola oil.
9. Nutrient Absorption
A diet plan that includes healthy fats will help your body absorb certain nutrients. The absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K is improved by dietary fats. Therefore, including a dash of olive oil on your salad may improve the absorption of the vitamins in your veggies and leafy greens. Try this recipe for The Best Lemon Vinaigrette from Allrecipes. This recipe combines red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil with spices to make a flavorful dressing for salads.
8. Shiny Hair
The healthy fats contained in nuts, seeds, olive oil, and oily fish may contribute to shiny, luxurious hair. Other foods that may help keep your hair shiny and healthy include eggs, which are rich in the protein and lutein that promote healthy hair follicles. Additionally, the antioxidants found in berries, leafy greens, and vegetables prevent damage to hair follicles by free radicals in your bloodstream.
7. Improved Skin Health
Your skin can also benefit from the inclusion of healthy fats in your diet. The unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, and fatty fish can help plump up your skin and decrease the appearance of wrinkles. Omega-3 fatty acids found in these foods also fight the inflammation that contributes to saggy, red, or acne-riddled skin. If you are looking to improve your skin through diet, make sure to include antioxidant-rich berries and citrus fruits in your diet as well. The vitamin C in these foods may aid in the synthesis of collagen, keeping your skin strong and supple.
6. Reproductive Health
Including unsaturated fats in your diet may fight the inflammation that interferes with ovulation and reproduction. In addition to healthy fats, those seeking to improve fertility should furnish their bodies with lean protein, nutrient-dense leafy greens, fresh fruits, and fiber-rich whole grains and legumes.
5. Decreased Inflammation
Inflammation plays a role in many disease processes of the body. According to Harvard Health, an anti-inflammatory diet includes foods such as tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy veggies, nuts, fatty fish, fruits, and berries. To fight inflammation, refrain from consuming inflammatory foods such as goods made from refined white flour, fried foods, fast food, soda, red meats, and liquid margarine.
4. Improved Mood
Including healthy fats in your diet may improve your mood and keep you feeling happier. Psychology Today reports that a diet containing omega-3 fatty acids can affect the regions of your brain related to mood. Therefore, including fatty fish, nuts, and seeds in a diet rich in leafy greens, fruits, and fiber can contribute to overall happiness and satisfaction as well as good physical health.
3. Longer Life
The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant foods and olive oil, is linked to long life. Consuming healthy fats in addition to fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains may contribute to a long and healthy life. The Food Network has a tasty recipe for Artichokes Provencal that contains artichokes, onion, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, and lemon zest. Another Food Network recipe for a Mediterranean-style meal containing healthy fats is Salmon with Warm Tomato-Olive Salad.
2. Improved Metabolism
According to Fat For Weight Loss, avoiding dietary fats can deprive you of the energy needed to burn off fat. Therefore, indulging in the healthy fats found in foods such as avocado or nuts can provide you with the energy you need to metabolize fats. Of course, it is always possible to have too much of a good thing. Aim for one ounce of nuts each day. If you don’t have a scale on hand, that equates to about a handful of nuts. The Cleveland Clinic reports about 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 35 peanuts, or 15 pecan halves make up one ounce.
1. Delicious Flavor
One of the most instantly gratifying benefits of healthy fats is the flavor they add to foods. Sprinkling a dash of olive oil on your vegetables before roasting them imparts delicious flavor. Including oils such as canola, grapeseed, or safflower oil in salad dressing makes your leafy green salad even tastier. Corn-on-the-cob is delicious, but brush it with olive oil and the savory flavor intensifies. Plain whole wheat toast may make a nutritious breakfast. However, when you top it with smashed avocado and a sunny side egg, the flavor profile can’t be beaten.