Healthy fats are essential and serve as a necessity for the brain and body. Fats allow our bodies to absorb vitamins, and when you lack fat, you may experience hair loss, a weakened immune system, and vitamin deficiencies. Unless you have to cater to a certain health condition, the body needs approximately 20-35% of its total daily calories from healthy fats, and fewer than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats. They serve as a source of energy to fuel body functions and activities, and while it may sound counterintuitive, they are also vital to biological functions such as growth and development.
“Good” vs. “Bad” Fats
Aim to eat healthy fats as opposed to saturated and trans fats that are often found in meat (both animal and processed), plant oils like palm kernel oil, and dairy products including cheese, butter, and milk. Saturated fats can raise “bad” LDL cholesterol and have a negative impact on heart health if eaten in excess. Be sure to read the labels of pre-packaged snacks including chips, crackers, and candy, as they typically tend to be high in saturated fats. Artificial trans fats can also raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as lower (“good”) HDL levels, which fuel inflammation. Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, and chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. Trans fats are most commonly consumed in fried foods, margarine, and as with unsaturated fats, meats and dairy. If your diet consists of these two fats, eat them in moderation, and shift your focus to unsaturated fats.
While you certainly want to avoid overindulging in fats overall, a fair amount of high quality sources are necessary to keep your body healthy, and should be eaten regularly. The keyword here is quality over quantity, which can serve as a reminder that the type of fats eaten is more important than the amount. There are a few lifestyle changes that you can make to ensure that you are eating a small amount of healthy fats in every meal. For example, cutting up a few slices of avocado before adding them onto your morning toast is an easy way to boost your breakfast’s nutritional value. For a quick, simple lunch or snack, try spreading one of your favorite nut butters into a sandwich, along with some banana slices, chia seeds, and a light drizzle of honey to help meet your fat requirements, and satisfy your sweet tooth! Including fats into your diet can even be as effortless as swapping your cooking oil to olive oil and using it to cook your foods.
Benefits of eating healthy fats
Studies have shown a link between eating healthy fats for maintaining better brain health. The brain is, after all, made up of about 60% fat. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), particularly omega-3 fatty acids, not only help build the brain structure, but they are involved in the functioning of neurotransmitters, which are messengers in the body.
Benefits of eating healthy fats include:
-lower risk of heart disease and stroked
-lower LDL cholesterol levels, increase “good” HDL levels
-lower triglycerides associated with heart disease and inflammation
-lower blood pressure
-promote normal functions of brain and nervous system
-protect against dry eye disease
-reduce inflammation in the body
Omega-3 fatty acids
These healthy fats are found in fish and other seafood, avocados, nuts, seeds, and plant oils like flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. When opting for a protein source, a high-quality fish like salmon or herring can give you the brain food you need. Another great omega-3 source is chia seeds. They can easily be consumed through a breakfast pudding, or by simply sprinkling them on top of meals you are already consuming like oatmeal, cereal, salad, or soup. Notably however, everyone’s favorite fat source is most like avocados! Utilize our produce-based subscription box FarmboxRx to take advantage of fruits and vegetables home delivery. If you are looking for where to buy fruits online, we make it easy to deliver fresh avocados to your doorstep. Go on to incorporate the avocados in your diet by making a creamy guacamole that you can serve alongside your meals or snack on with fresh veggies.
Fat’s role in the brain
When you understand that the brain is that fattiest organ in your body, it’s no wonder that eating healthy fats is so vital to your brain’s ability to perform. You’ll also feel good when making the empowered choice to choose a healthy fat source that improves your overall health and performance. Essentially, healthy fats are the building blocks of our brains and they are necessary for learning and memory. And as humans, our ability to learn, memorize, and critically think are what differ us from our other animal cousins. Our brains are larger and have a bigger capacity to perform and create. So while we might not be at the highest end of the food chain, it is certainly our brains that allow us to develop and progress at the rates in which we do, making it vital that we take care of them accordingly.
Eating healthy fats is an important part of the human diet that should be given daily priority, when it comes to which food groups you are choosing. The benefits include better brain health and overall higher performance, while not eating a sufficient amount can negatively impact you. If you are losing hair excessively for example, or are finding that your immune system isn’t holding up as strong as it should be in its line of defense, you may want to review how much of this vital nutrient you are consuming on a daily basis. Consider how you can easily introduce more healthy fats into your diet, and simultaneously reduce your intake of unhealthy fats. Whether you are choosing to snack on a handful of fatty-rich nuts in between meals, or adding chia seeds into a smoothie or your water, there are several ways you can achieve the daily recommended amount of fats. By doing so, you will put your body onto a better track for feeling energized, focused, and satisfied.