Many people wrongly assume that eating fat makes us fat. The reality is that an excess of calories consumed—from fat or not—contributes to weight gain.
In fact, avoiding foods that contain any type of fat is depriving your body of essential nutrients that provide very rich benefits. In recent years, certain fats have been increasingly promoted for the health benefits they provide. However, not all fats are equal.
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Under the umbrella of fats are “healthy” and “unhealthy” fats. As a rule of thumb, unhealthy fats are usually solid at room temperature and derived from animals, such as butter and cheese.
Healthy fats are typically liquid at room temperature and derived from plant sources. For example, good fats include plant oils such as olive oil and soybean oil, in addition to avocados, nuts and seeds.
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Fish is an exception to the animal rule—salmon and other types of fish are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming these healthy fats in moderate portions helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, improves your cholesterol levels, and controls weight. Here’s how:
1. Lowered Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Unsaturated fats are an example of heart-healthy fats—more specifically, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats can be found in many types of nuts including almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts.
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Not only are nuts a good source of protein, but they also contain polyphenols, a class of phytochemicals that are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Avocados and olives are also great sources of monounsaturated fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in walnuts, flaxseed, and salmon, are polyunsaturated fats and have also been shown to play a role in heart health.
More: Love Yourself With This Heart-Healthy Grocery List