All about healthy fats

Not all fats are created equal! There is such thing as a healthy fat, and that’s fat that contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are good fats because research suggests that they can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Healthy fats also support healthy brain function, support the immune system, and lower blood pressure. Making sure you have some of these foods in your diet can also make meals more satisfying, decreasing hunger later. As with any good thing, you still shouldn’t overdo it—but getting a few servings of the following foods during the week is a great idea.

Dark chocolate is fatty but small doses do have some benefits! Try brands that contain around 60% cocoa. There is some saturated fat in dark chocolate (about half of the total fat content), but your liver converts this fat into the healthy kind, thanks to stearic acid. There is also some evidence that dark chocolate may lower bad cholesterol, something everyone can benefit from. Don't eat chocolate every day; the calories will outweigh the benefits if you do.

Salmon is great whether you grill it, bake it or pan fry it. It’s a delicious, high-protein source of omega-3s and can help you maintain that balanced diet. If you're cutting back on red meat, replace your meat servings with healthy salmon fillets or smoked salmon that comes in a pouch.

Avocados make a great addition to your favorite sandwich or chopped up in a salad. They are also low in carbs and loaded with monounsaturated fats that help prevent heart disease. You shouldn’t eat them every day, as they also contain other fats, but they’re great as an occasional addition to your favorite foods—or as guacamole! 

Ground flaxseed adds flavor to yogurt, oatmeal, and even your salad dressings. It's high in omega-3s and fiber, and has an addictive nutty flavor. You can grind up flaxseed to mix into your baked goods, smoothies and other concoctions with ease. Or just sprinkle it on your favorite foods to get your omega-3 boost. One serving size of flaxseed is about 2 tablespoons.

Olive oil is one of the most versatile sources of good fats because you can cook with it, make salad dressings out of it, and use it to season pasta and other dishes. You can also use an olive oil spread for toast and muffins instead of butter or margarine, which are full of unhealthy fats. It's perfect for stir-fries, drizzling over steamed veggies, and for seasoning your favorite side dishes.

Olives, the source of that olive oil above, are also a tasty addition to salads or on their own as a snack. Olives are a good source of vitamin E, and contain omega-3s. If you love olives, you even can make a savory olive tapenade dip in your food processor. Throw in 2 cups of green olives, ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, a tablespoon of drained capers, and a few squeezes of lemon juice, then process until smooth. Enjoy with hearty wheat crackers and a few friends!

Walnuts and almonds are especially good for lowering cholesterol and providing you with good fats. In fact, nuts can lower triglycerides in your bloodstream. Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and vitamin E. Toss a few over a spinach salad, a handful in with your yogurt in the morning, or put in some homemade trail mix.

For more information about getting enough omega-3 oils in your diet and what they can do for you, check out this great article. Whether you're cutting back on grain-related carbs or looking to balance out your diet, healthy fats are definitely the way to go!

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