In my last blog, I delved deep into the bad fats: trans-fat and saturated fat and provided suggestions on how to avoid those fats. While those fats can wreak havoc on your health, good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are essential for brain health, a healthy heart, disease prevention, and energy. These good fats also help you to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, which include: Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Known as MUFAs (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids), these fats help prevent belly fat. Even better, they help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Good monounsaturated fats include: olive oil, cashews almonds or peanuts (this includes almond butter and peanut butter). I would recommend a quarter cup of the nut choices, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a dressing, or 2 Tablespoons of a nut butter on whole grain bread to get a nice daily serving of these good-for-you fats.
Like MUFAs, polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS) lower your LDL. And PUFAS are the specific fats that have shown amazing benefits to your brain from mood improvement to boosting brain function. In particular it is the Omega-3 form of polyunsaturated fats that your body needs most. Omega-3s are broken down into DHA, which is amazingly beneficial to your brain and EPA, which is known for its benefits to your joint health and your skin. Both forms are excellent for heart health.
Omega-3s are found in fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring, as well as flaxseed and walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish a week. I would add that ground flaxseed in oatmeal is delicious (try it—a couple tablespoons a couple times a week). Like all nuts, a good serving of walnuts is one-quarter cup.
Omega-6s are also polyunsaturated fats that are found in oils like sesame oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, and safflower oil. Omega-6s benefits include the reduction of nerve pain, possibly helpful with ADHD, and they may ease Rheumatoid arthritis pain. However, too much Omega-6 compared to Omega-3 can cause inflammation and the Standard American Diet is inundated with Omega-6s because of the use of Omega-6 oils in processed food. If you reduce the amount of processed food that you consume, the safer you will be!
How do you plan to increase the good fats in your diet? Tell us in the comments below.