Although there is a lot of negative associations with fats, it's essential to include healthy fats in your diet. Fats perform an essential role: they give us energy; help us absorb nutrients; and help protect our organs. Fats should form a certain proportion of our diet and you should know that too little fat can actually cause health problems. Here are some of the sources of healthy fats you should eat …
1. Olive Oil
One of the healthy fats that many of us consume is olive oil. It contains antioxidants and can help reduce your cholesterol and risk of stroke. However, do keep it within sensible limits; don't smother your salad with lots of olive oil in the belief that a healthy fat has no limits. Too much healthy fat is still too much fat.
Nuts are a great way of consuming healthy fat. Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts are just some of the nuts that are a good source of important vitamins and minerals. Nut butters are also a good source of healthy fats - try almond or cashew butter as an alternative to peanut butter. Do look for a butter without added sugar though.
Avocados are known for their oily texture and for having a high fat content. However, they are predominantly high in monounsaturated fat, so should be included in your diet. Don't overdo it though, as they still contain a lot of fat - a mammoth 30g (the Department of Health in the UK recommends that women consume a maximum of 71g fat per day).
4. Fatty Fish
You should also include fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel in your diet. These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are a brilliant cholesterol-buster. The healthiest cooking methods are to bake, steam or grill them - you don't want to be adding extra fat to them. Have at least two weekly servings of fatty fish. If you don't like or eat fish, opt for walnuts and flaxseed instead.
Like nuts, seeds are a great source of healthy fats. As mentioned above, walnuts and flaxseed provide omega-3 fatty acids. Try flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds. They're also a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Eat seeds as a snack, sprinkle them on breakfast or dessert, or use them to make healthy cakes and treats.
Eggs have been demonised by some sources as being too high in cholesterol. However, there's no need to avoid them because of concerns over saturated fat. The saturated fat content is actually fairly low. A reasonable consumption of eggs offers plenty of healthy nutrition - they're also a great protein source.
7. Soy Milk
You might think of cutting down on fat by drinking skim milk. Soy milk offers a great alternate source of healthy fat. Although it contains more fat than skim milk, the advantage of soy milk is that the fat is unsaturated. There are lots of alternatives on the market to dairy products if you like yoghurt and other desserts. You can also get healthy fats by eating tofu.
All of these sources of fat are delicious as well as healthy. They allow you to get the essential nutrients your body needs, while avoiding an unhealthy weight gain. Just be careful not to overdo it; keep your intake of these fats to a sensible level. What improvements could you make to your diet?