In recent years, certain fats have shed their bad rap as researchers uncover their health benefits. Studies have shown that feasting on foods like fish, which is high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, instead of devouring fatty meats and cheeses, which are high in omega-6 and saturated fats, may help reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and subsequently, the risk of heart disease. To make your quest for good fats easier, the Washington Post reported on four foods containing healthy fats to add to your plate today:
- Almonds. A one-ounce serving of almonds (1/4 cup) has almost 9 grams of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to have cardiovascular benefits. In a randomized, controlled study, snacking on almonds rather than a muffin was associated with higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol levels in people with elevated cholesterol.
- Avocado. A cup of cubed avocado has over 14 grams of monounsaturated fats. One large observational study found that people who reported eating any amount of avocado in the previous 24 hours had lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference, as well as higher HDL cholesterol and a 50% reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Olive oil. Eating a daily total of approximately four tablespoons of olive oil, containing a whopping 39 grams of monounsaturated fats, as part of a Mediterranean diet, was shown in one randomized trial to reduce the risk of a cardiac event (heart attack, stroke, or heart disease-related death) by 30% compared with no dietary intervention in people with high cardiovascular risk. In other studies, it has also been shown to improve blood vessel function and increase longevity.
- Chia seeds. A tablespoon of chia seeds contains 4 grams of polyunsaturated fats, and about 60% are the essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. One small clinical trial found that eating a snack containing chia seeds reduced systolic blood pressure and markers of cardiovascular risk more than eating a snack with a similar amount of wheat bran in people with type 2 diabetes. Other preliminary research suggests that chia seeds may reduce appetite and lower blood sugar rises after eating sugar.
Source: Washington Post