‘Healthy fats’ you may ask – is there such a thing? Absolutely! Some fats are indeed actually good for you. In fact, let’s go beyond good for you. Consuming the right kind of fat is essential for the smooth running of our everyday human function. This doesn’t however mean that heavily fried foods are all of a sudden good for you – that kind of food does still pose health risks, especially if eaten frequently.
For those on diets or trying to lose weight, we’re constantly faced with ‘low fat’ diets, and other terms that give the word ‘fats’ a negative connotation. In this article, we’re focusing on good healthy fats for vegans, and the concept of healthy fats in general.
Why are healthy fats so important?
There are regular examples of how healthy fats are specifically used by many. We’re often told to consume cod liver oil to encourage stronger bone development, good joint health, good heart health and many other health benefits. This is probably one of the best known examples of a healthy fat. Other examples are eating fish, or consuming other types of fish oils. But cod liver oil, and fish based products do not work with a vegan diet. However, there are some other alternatives that will be touched on later.
It is vital that we find the balance between consuming healthy fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates – these 3 elements make up a macronutrient profile. Healthy fats in-particular are essential for the optimal function and well-being of our bodies. Fat is essential for regulating our cholesterol levels, anti-inflammatory properties, maintaining good heart health, good brain function, and creating testosterone – a vital component for high load gym work. Healthy fats are also essential for the effective absorption of many everyday vitamins and minerals that our body needs.
Below are some great foods that possess healthy fats.
Avocado is a great food with an abundance of healthy fats – up to 80% fat. Most of this fat content is monounsaturated fat that is great for heart health. Avocados have proven to be a good anti-inflammatory, a competent cholesterol regulator, good for brain function, a good source of energy and is known to reduce the potential of coronary heart disease or a stroke.
Avocados can be used for salads, crushed and used instead of butter, and certainly fits the bill as a healthy fat for vegans.
Olives And Olive Oil
Olive oils, are another great healthy fat source, rich in monounsaturates like avocados. There could be a slight misconception about whether olive oil is good for you or not, because as a whole, oils in foods are sometimes frowned upon. This is particular true of sunflower oil and palm oil, both of which are high in saturated fats, and can potentially cause cholesterol and heart challenges if taken consistently.
Olive oil on the other hand, offers some of the good qualities that avocado has to offer. Olive oil is a source of phenols – a powerful antioxidant with the ability to rid the body of free radicals. Olive oil is fantastic in salads, and for dressing foods.
Olives in their full form, are as great snack on their own, with salads or with a meal, and superior quality versions are available from Amazon.
Chia seeds are a very important source of healthy fat for a vegan as it has high omega-3 fatty acid content, which can potentially replace the healthy fats that fish and fish-based oils possess. With this in mind chia seeds offer all the best benefits omega-3 has to offer, including aiding the absorption of key vitamins into our system.
Not content with being a great source of healthy fat, chia seeds are a nutrient powerhouse and is a great source of protein, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Chia also has a helpful trick of suppressing the appetite and keeping the stomach full.
Great to use on porridge oats, cereals, some salads and smoothies. Best served milled and at times, in combination with flax seeds.
Another seed powerhouse is flax seeds. Like chia seeds, flax seeds have an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, and like in similar fashion are a nutrient powerhouse, good for protein, calcium, iron fibre and antioxidants. Flax seeds have often been used by vegans that like to bake as both an egg replacement when mixed with water, or in some cases, as a flour. Flax is also a good texture to add to many meals, for added nutrition.
Flax seeds can be used on oats, cereals, smoothies, salads, and even with meals. They are a very versatile food, especially when milled.
Flax and chia seeds are often used together as they compliment each other well. There are many examples of combined chia and flax seeds available on Amazon.
Nuts are a nutrient powerhouse that do so many things well. We’ve touched on how good nuts are for protein. Well, they happen to be a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats and fibre. They also have an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids that aid our day to day body functions.
Cashews, brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios are some of the variety of nuts can enhance your daily function. It is however advised that a sensible portion of nuts, no more than 50g is consumed.
As you can see, finding healthy fats to consume as a vegan isn’t very hard, and we only really touched on a handful. There are many other foods that contain healthy fats suitable for a plant-based diet. The main thing is regardless of your diet, to not be afraid of the word “fats” in food, but to understand good fats from bad fats, and find the right healthy fats to consume. For the active vegan, healthy fats, equals a healthy function which ultimately leads to gains.