5 Excellent Sources of Healthy Dietary Fat

Posted October 5, 2010 by

As discussed in a previous article, there are different types of healthy fats available in nature, and we must make an effort to consume these different types on a regular basis to realize the full spectrum of benefits. It is important to remember that dietary fat is not the enemy, and is not the same thing as body fat. In fact, a diet that includes a moderate amount of healthy fats can actually aid in the loss of body fat as long as calories are kept in check.

The best choice for fats are the unsaturated variety, including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These fats have been shown to reduce total blood cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, which can lower the risk of heart disease. In particular, the Omega-3 type of polyunsaturated fatty acids has been shown to specifically lower the risk of coronary artery disease, irregular heart beats and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Saturated fats are found in animal sources and are not as beneficial to the body. They have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by raising the level of LDLs in the blood. That being said, eating a healthy amount of soluble fiber (found in foods such as whole grains, fruits and beans) and unsaturated fats can offset the effects of a minor-to-moderate amount of saturated fat, so it’s not necessary to avoid it completely (besides, most sources of unsaturated fats include at least a portion of saturated fat content so it would be difficult to completely eliminate saturated fat from the diet). One potential benefit of saturated fat in particular is that it may raise the level of natural testosterone in the body (which will aid in fat loss and strength gain).

Trans fats are artificially-created and have no benefits (but many downsides!).  Like saturated fats, trans fats raise LDL levels and increase the risk of heart disease, but do not aid in testosterone production. They should be completely avoided.

So, without further ado, I present five of the best sources for getting your daily dosage of healthy dietary fats.

  1. Nut/Seed Oils: these oils (such as olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil) are rich in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and can be used for various cooking, flavoring and dressing applications.
  2. Vegetable Oils: these oils (such as safflower oil, corn oil and soy oil) include healthy doses of polyunsaturated fats, and like their nut/seed relatives can be used for a wide variety of culinary purposes.
  3. Cold-Water Fish: cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring) have a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats, and in particular include a large amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish 2-3 times per week is recommended for an optimal diet.
  4. Flaxseed Oil: flaxseed oil (and ground flaxseeds) can be used for flavoring or taken directly, and include many of the same benefits as fish oil, including a high concentration of Omega-3s. It is important to note that whole flaxseeds are undigestible and while being high in fiber, will provide no fat to the diet and must be ground up to release the fat content.
  5. Nuts: like the oil that is made from them, whole nuts (such as walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts) provide a good balance of mono and polyunsaturated fats.

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