Healthy fats are important for nervous system function, metabolism, digestion, heart health, and brain health. All of these reasons prove we needn’t fear fat, but we do need to know which sources are best. Plant-based sources of fats aren’t just a source of calories; they’re a raw source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that do everything from protect your brain, to improve you thyroid, and as you’ll see, they prevent you from disease. Choosing whole food sources of fats can ensure that you’re choosing the right source of fats and avoiding the wrong ones.
Animal-based fats promote high cholesterol, can lead to inflammation and clogged arteries, and aren’t necessary. Did you know that the human body can produce enough cholesterol on its own without needing dietary cholesterol from other sources? Plant-based fats have no cholesterol, while all animal foods contain some (mostly large), numbers of dietary (added) cholesterol. Fish, in fact, though promoted as healthy, is one of the foods highest in cholesterol, not to mention eggs and butter that contain animal-based saturated fats. Though you’ll hear conflicting advice about these foods for your health, keep in mind that the bottom line is, they’re not necessary. The plant-based kingdom is full of healthy fats, leaving little room (or need) for much else.
Since cholesterol does not dissolve in our bloodstream, it’s important that we choose good sources of fats, which are also known as HDL (high density lipoprotein) sources of cholesterol. These are found in whole plant-based foods and they remove harmful fats and sources of cholesterol from our body by helping transport them to the liver where they’re dissolved for elimination. Animal-based foods cause your LDL (lower density hydrolipid) to rise, which is your bad cholesterol. Increased LDL levels contribute to arterial plaque and can prevent proper blood flow to the heart, leading to health concerns like heart disease, artherosclerosis and even diabetes.
Below are some sources to include in your diet, helpful articles and products, and some of our favorite recipes with healthy fats we’d like to share with you.
Keep your heart and brain healthy with plant-based fats!
Fats from whole foods such as raw nuts and seeds, olives, coconut, avocado, and cacao are all rich in whole food, dense nutrients that protect the heart and blood. They promote lower blood pressure, can stave off hunger, and can help induce satiety and help one manage their weight and appetite. Healthy fats also keep the hair, skin, and nails in good condition, all with just a few tablespoons a day.
Your brain can contain up to 60 percent fat, which means its important to take care of it as much as possible. Healthy fats promote a healthy mood, aid in cellular support, and when you choose the right sources, can even help keep your weight in check and your heart healthy. They promote satiety and go a long way towards stablizing your blood sugar, even in small amounts. Healthy fats also ensure your skin, hair and nails stay healthy, and support your overall metabolism. It’s important to choose healthy fats from plant-based foods, since animal fats promote inflammation, lead to heart disease and cancer, and are generally not necessary with so many healthy, whole food, plant-based options.
DAILY RECOMMENDED INTAKE
There is no set number of recommended intake for healthy fats, however they’re important for everyone’s diet, no matter how high fat or how low fat you choose to go. Healthy fats promote a healthy heart, regular digestion, and satiate our appetites. The omega 3’s in many plant-based fats also prevent inflammation and arterial disease. Including 1-2 tablespoons at each meal is a great start, and remember, a little goes a long way!
- chia seeds
- hemp seeds
- raw nuts (avoid roasted or coated in salt/oil)
- coconut meat
- coconut butter
- unsweetened coconut shreds
- raw nut butters
- raw sunflower seeds
- raw pumpkin seeds
- 100 percent cacao (unsweetened)
What about oils?
Oils such as hemp, olive, coconut and other plant-based oils do have more health benefits than vegetable oils like corn and soy that often contain GMO’s, promote inflammation and may cause poor artery and heart health. However, oils will often promote weight gain and aren’t necessary if you eat enough healthy foods. Coating your pan with some coconut oil may be fine to cook with, but you can also just use water instead or add healthy fats to your dishes to enhance the flavor and add vital nutrients. Remember, foods have to be pretty processed to obtain their oils, so always go for the whole food source when you can. Most people find that their energy increases and their overall weight stabilizes without oils in their diet. Use your plant-based oils for body care instead!
Always, always avoid processed fats, even from plant-based sources. This includes cookies, donuts, cereals, granola, or any food that is coated with oils during processing.
RECIPES WITH HEALTHY FATS
- Don’t Fear Fats! Here’s the Right Way to Work Them Into Your Diet
- Why Plant-Based Fats Are Important for Athletes
- How to Decide if a Low-Fat or High-Fat Diet is Right for You
- The 5 Cleanest Sources of Plant-Based Fats
- Not All Fats Are Created Equal: 4 Tips for Choosing Dietary Fats
- Don’t Fear the Fat! Tips on Choosing the Best Sources
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Protein
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Complex Carbs/Fiber
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin A
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: B Vitamins
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin C
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin D
- Plant-Based Nutrition 101: Vitamin E
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Vitamin K
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Calcium
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Magnesium
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Iron
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Zinc
- Plant-based Nutrition 101: Healthy Fats (CURRENT PAGE)