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16 Food Sources of Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, typically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are good for a variety of reasons. They help lower your cholesterol levels, regulate your blood sugar, and improve vitality of your hair and skin. Polyunsaturated fats especially (think omega-3s and omega-6s) help protect and promote the health of your brain and cognitive skills. So where can you find these healthy fats then?

Sources of Healthy Fats

Below are 16 best food sources for healthy fats.

1. Olive Oil

There’s a reason why nutritionists encourage people to cook with olive oil—one tablespoon has just about 14 grams of healthy fats. Don’t be too heavy-handed though, as this also equates to quite a few calories. Replace your unhealthy oils, like canola and vegetable, with oil for most of your cooking to consistently reap the healthy benefits.

2. Olives

Olives are just as healthy even when they’re not pressed into oil form, with nearly 15 grams of healthy fats in a 1-cup serving. Olives are easy to snack on alone, or can be added to your pizzas, omelettes, salads, and pastas.

3. Avocado

Not only are they delicious, but avocadoes are also an incredible source of healthy fats. In one medium-sized avocado, most of the 23 grams of fat are healthy fats. Try adding the fruit to your salads, sandwiches, omelettes, and more to reap the benefits of this powerfood.

4. Walnuts

These nuts are a healthy and filling snack, and are of course rich in healthy fats. One of the best sources of omega-3’s, a handful of walnuts can help protect your cognitive health and lower cholesterol. Eating walnuts regularly may also reduce swelling and inflammation in the arteries, thereby lowering your risk for heart attack and stroke. If you don’t like walnuts by themselves, try at least incorporating them into your salads and pastries as often as possible.

5. Other Nuts

Pistachios and almonds, as well as cashews, pecans, and macadamia nuts, are also good sources of healthy fats. Because nuts do tend to run high in calories, the recommended serving size is about ¼ cup to get the benefits of the healthy fats without too many calories.

6. Nut and Seed Butters

Another easy way to get the benefits of nuts without munching down on a handful is to incorporate nut and seed butters into your diet. These are easy to spread on your toast or pair with apple slices. Almond and sunflower seed butter are some of the best choices for a good dose of healthy fats.

7. Ground Flaxseed

You only need 1-2 tablespoons of this superfood to reap the benefits of the unsaturated fats. Flaxseed is a great grain (especially for vegetarians seeking protein) to add to the diet because it is not only rich in healthy fats, but also fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants. You can easily sprinkle some ground flaxseed into your oatmeal or add a tablespoon to your smoothie.

8. Salmon

One of the healthiest fishes out there, organic salmon is chock-full of heart-healthy omega-3s. All you need is two servings per week to reap the benefits of this oily fish.

9. Dark Chocolate

Good news for chocolate-lovers, dark chocolate made the list of foods with healthy fats. A single 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate won’t put you back too many calories but will provide you with about 9 grams of healthy fats. If you suffer from a sweet tooth, you’ll be doing your body good to switch from milk chocolate or heavily processed chocolate to a dark option with at least 70% cocoa.

10. Sunflower Seeds

Not only do they make for a great snack at a ball game, but these tasty seeds also make a fantastic addition to your pastas, trail mix, and salads. These little seeds pack a powerful punch in terms of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

11. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are easy to “hide” in many of your other dishes, from smoothies to pastas to cereal, but this doesn’t cover up the fact that these little guys are rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. Just 1 ounce of these super seeds will deliver 9 grams of unsaturated fats.

12. Coconuts and Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has become all the rage recently, and for good reason. Coconuts and the oil derived from them are the single richest source of saturated fats, but they are processed differently so that they act like healthy fats. These medium-chain fatty acids help promote healthy kidney function and protect the brain from cognitive decline.

13. Grass-Fed Butter

Stay far away from margarine, which is full of unhealthy fats, and any butter made from cows raised with hormones or antibiotics. Grass-fed butter, however, has fats that can actually lower cholesterol levels and de-calcify arteries.

14. Pasture-Raised Bacon

Most bacon found in grocery stores today is loaded with nitrates, and is processed from pigs that have been raised in unhealthy and inhumane ways. Pasture-raised bacon, however, is full of health benefits. Pasture-raised pork has more antioxidants and healthy fats; not to mention, it also tastes better. Look for some locally-grown, pasture-raised bacon the next time you go to the farmer’s market.

15. Cocoa Butter

A rich source of antioxidants, cocoa butter also has one of the longest shelf lives among butters. The healthy fats and antioxidants found in cocoa butter contribute to healthy skin and hair, as well as a reduction in inflammation throughout the body.

16. Coconut Butter

This butter is rich in healthy fats and antioxidants. Whereas coconut oil is great for cooking and sautéing, coconut butter is traditionally used in smoothies or as a topping for a bowl of berries.

Obviously, all fats are not the same. Our bodies need healthy fats to function and to stay healthy, and to safeguard against future threats. Try incorporating these healthy-fat foods into your diet as often as possible to start reaping the benefits of healthy fats, from a healthier heart to glowing skin.

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