Top 7 Plant-Based Sources of Healthy Fats
Fats have had their fair share of bad and good press. For decades, starting from the 1980s, they were blamed for the obesity pandemic and a host of heart-related diseases. The common wisdom was: a healthy diet equals less fat. Now, with newer research, the dietary tables have turned, and low-carb, high-fat diets, like keto, are all the rage. While these theories surrounding fats might keep changing, the truth remains that a balance of fats, proteins, and carbs - the three macronutrients - is essential to a healthy diet.
Healthy fats are crucial for the proper functioning of organs, in maintaining skin and hair health, and in helping the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
And let’s face it - fat makes everything taste a whole lot better. This is because it enhances the ingredients’ smell and flavour profile and gives a creamy mouthfeel to the dish, making it practically irresistible. Ever been able to say no to a plate of chocolate brownies? Us neither.
But not all dietary fats are equally healthy, and here’s why.
What are Healthy and Unhealthy Fats?
There are mainly 3 types of dietary fats; unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Unsaturated fats are generally referred to as healthy or good fats. They lower bad cholesterol (LDL), improve gut and heart health, and even promote weight loss.
Saturated fat is regarded by old research as unhealthy or bad fats. It was said to raise levels of bad cholesterol and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. But newer research suggests that it has a more neutral effect on both good and bad cholesterol levels.
Trans fats are naturally found in dairy products and meats, but they’re also added in hydrogenated vegetable oils. However, it is best to avoid trans fats, as they not only raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels but also lower HDL (good cholesterol) and are associated with a higher risk of heart stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Top 7 Plant-Based Sources of Fat
The British Dietetic Association recommends a daily intake of 70g of fats for adults.
However, when we think of fats, images of cheese, butter, meat, and the paragon of healthy fats - fatty fish, pop up in our minds. And so if you’re planning to go vegan, you might be worried about getting enough fats through a plant-based diet. But rest your worries aside, coz we’ve curated a list of the top 7 vegan foods, that are super rich in healthy fats, and will help you tick off your fat macros for the day.
Avocados are as nutritious as they are delicious. These creamy, tender fat-bombs are composed of 77% fat, with the majority of it being monounsaturated fat. And one medium avocado will not only provide you with 21 grams of fat but also twice the potassium of a banana.
They’re also super versatile and taste delicious no matter how you eat them, be it topped on toast, blended into a smoothie, or infused in an outrageously moreish Malay satay with lotus root and a creamy, delicately zingy peanut and coconut sauce.
Nuts are one of the best sources of fat in a vegan diet. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans are the best nuts as they’re rich in unsaturated fats and great sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and other minerals. Brazil nuts and cashews are also great sources of fat, but they have a higher concentration of saturated fats. Either way, including nuts in your diet, is a great idea.
Nuts are ideally designed for snacking. You can simply munch on them by the handful, or try creamy, chunky nut butter. More reason to love the crunchy roasted almonds on our Moroccan mega Marrakesh tagine.
3. Chia Seeds
While all seeds are nutritious and great plant-based sources of fat, chia seeds have rightfully earned their place in the superfood hall of fame. 2 tbsp of chia seeds contains approximately 8.5g of fat and most of it is in the form of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats which the body cannot produce. Hence, they needed to be consumed through your diet. Fatty fish is generally considered a key source of omega-3, but if you’re following a plant-based diet, chia seeds are a fantastic alternative.
Coconut and coconut oil are rich in saturated fats, yes. But unlike most sources of saturated fats, this tropical nut comprises medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which the liver can easily break down and convert into energy or ketones.
MCTs, help to curb hunger, keep you satiated for longer, and hence reduce calorie consumption.
Try out our creamy, sweet, and fragrant Keralan coconut curry that celebrates the goodness and distinctly delicious, mildly sweet, and nutty flavours of coconut.
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fondly known as EVOO among health enthusiasts worldwide, this superfood is rich in polyunsaturated – omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
One tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil has 14 grams of fat. Moreover, 73% of its fats are composed of monosaturated oleic acid which, as studies have suggested, has anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancerous properties.
EVOO’s high concentration of monosaturated fats also makes it resistant to high temperatures and thus ideal for cooking.
6. Dark Chocolate
It’s time to celebrate because dark chocolate - when done right - is nutritious! A 30g bar of dark chocolate - with a 70% or higher concentration of cocoa - contains around 11g of fat.
Besides being a rich source of plant-based fat, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Studies also show that people who eat dark chocolate 5 or more times a week are less likely to die from heart disease. Honestly, we were always team chocolate.
Flaxseeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega3 fatty acids. One tbsp of flaxseed contains around 1.8g of omega3s - enough to satisfy your daily omega3 requirement.
Grind them into your favourite smoothie, add them to granola bars or simply sprinkle them on your morning oats, for a bit of that healthy, delish, crunch.
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