An avocado a day keeps all your troubles away!
Okay… well, maybe not exactly.
Especially not this year.
But your best life ever might just be a few – dare I say, delicious, choices away!
For years, we were told to stay away from fats. Fats were “bad”. A plethora of fat free foods lined the shelves at the grocery store. In high school, I remember how I mistakenly believed that as long as a food was fat free, I could eat as much of it as I wanted to. Never mind the sugar content or all the chemicals it was sure to contain.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I understand that not all fat is necessarily bad. In fact, some fat might even be considered “good”!
“Good” fats include fats from fish or plants, such as avocado, olive, nuts, and tropical oils. These fats tend to have a higher proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The body uses these fats to aid in hormone function, memory, and the absorption of specific nutrients.
Breaking it down even further:
- Monounsaturated fats are found in plant-based oils like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sesame oil; avocados; and many nuts and seeds.
- Polyunsaturated fats include the omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These fats are considered essential, meaning that they are something our body needs, but cannot produce on its own. Therefore, they must be obtained through food. We tend to get omega-6 fats readily in our diet, but omega-3s can be a bit harder to find. Foods high in omega-3 fats include fatty fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, lake trout and mackerel; nuts (especially walnuts); flax seeds and oils, such as soybean oil and canola oil.
There is a growing body of research that shows the positive effects of these healthy, unsaturated fats on our bodies. Consuming foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been linked to:
- Lower LDL cholesterol
- Improved insulin levels
- Improved glucose levels
- Overall heart health
- Better skin
As a general rule, on the other hand, it is best to limit your intake of unhealthy fats, like saturated and trans fats. These types of foods generally have a negative impact on heart health and cholesterol. In particular, trans fats trigger an inflammatory response in your body, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
In fact, even if just 2% of your daily calories come from trans fat, it will increase your risk of heart disease by 23%! Therefore, steer clear of things like fried foods, frozen pizzas, baked goods, and margarine!
A good way to start incorporating more healthy fats into your diet is to substitute them for less healthy varieties. For example, try:
- Cooking in olive oil instead of butter
- Instead of meat, try a fatty fish – opt for salmon instead of steak, or tuna instead of salami
- Rather than taking your eggs with a side of bacon, try some avocado slices
- Put away that packaged snack food, and instead munch on some raw nuts.