These Are the Healthy Fats You Should Definitely Be Eating

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Fast food in take out paper bag

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The truth about healthy fats

Starting in the 1970s and continuing throughout the 1990s, health experts recommended that most people eat a low-fat diet. Why? Researchers had discovered a strong link between dietary saturated fats and heart disease. But as people began to adopt new low-fat diets and eat more low-fat foods, there were major negative consequences that people had failed to consider.

Fat gives flavour to food and helps you feel more satisfied and full for longer. So when people started eating mostly low-fat foods, some people started eating more total calories than before in order to feel full. Many food manufacturers also switched out fat from packaged foods and replaced them with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which are chock-full of extra calories without a lot of nutritional value.

Research shows that replacing fats with simple carbohydrates like refined grains and added sugars does not reduce the risk of heart disease. And foods rich in sugars can raise circulating levels of triglycerides, or blood fats. High triglyceride levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart failure.

These days, experts understand that it’s less about how much fat you eat and more about what type. While unhealthy fats can cause high cholesterol and heart disease, healthy fats boost heart health.

Here’s what the experts want you to know about healthy fats, including what they are, where to find them, and why they’re so important for healthy cholesterol levels and overall good health.

(Related: 45 Incredible Dessert Recipes You Won’t Believe Are Healthy)

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Food With High Content Of Healthy Fats Overhead View

The body needs fat

Nutrients in fat play a role in several important bodily processes. But the body does not produce fats, also known as fatty acids, so they must be consumed in foods. Fats are an excellent source of calories that the body can convert into energy. Many dietary forms of fat contain twice the calories per gram as carbohydrate and protein.

Internal body fat also protects organs and helps keep us warm. Babies and toddlers in particular need fat to fuel healthy cognitive development and growth. Fats also allow the body to absorb and use essential vitamins, such as A, E, D, and K, says registered dietitian Roxana Ehsani, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Plus, she says, fat helps cells grow, helps the body make hormones, and promotes satiety, which keeps you full for longer.

Beyond that, experts say fat also gives food rich flavour and can amp up the flavour on otherwise bland or boring health food, like certain veggies.

(Related: How the Pandemic Helped Me Embrace Weight Gain and Intuitive Eating)

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