Healthy fats: everything you need to know (and why you shouldn’t cut them out of your diet)

We often associate a fatty diet with fatty foods, which are not healthy at all and generally bad for our organism. But healthy fats are not the same as saturated or trans fats. In fact, the former are very beneficial to our bodies, which is why it’s not a good idea to cut them out of our diet (no, not even if you’re trying to lose weight). But how do we know which ones are good for us? In what foods they are contained and at what time of the day we should consume them? Maika Palacios, medical director of Homedoctor, the Spanish medical video advice app, answers our questions.

What are the good fats and what are the bad fats??

The specialist stresses that "the good or healthy fats that bring a great number of benefits to our body are the unsaturated fats, d.h. Monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. On the other hand, the bad fats colloquially mentioned are saturated fats and trans fatty acids. Why? In the case of the former, "they increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease", Palacios explains. The problem with the latter is quite similar: "They can increase the levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular disease."

What do healthy fats do?

There are several benefits of this type of fat. Starting with the fact that it helps us absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, which are so important for our bodies. But what Palacios emphasizes most is that "the fats we eat give the body the energy it needs to work properly," she says. During exercise, the body uses the calories from the carbohydrates we ate, but then after 20 minutes, the workout depends on the calories from the fat to continue." So, although we tend to eliminate from our diet everything that implies the term "fat" when exercising or losing weight, the truth is that it is the unsaturated fats that bring us the most benefits the truth is that we benefit greatly from its consumption to be able to perform better in our training.

On the other hand, it is important to know that while saturated or trans fatty acids are harmful to the heart and increase cholesterol levels, the opposite is true for unsaturated or healthy fats. The expert points out that "they can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of phenomena such as heart disease and stroke. In addition, monounsaturated fats help in the development and maintenance of our cells." However, there are other benefits as well: Palacios points out that healthy or unsaturated fats also "replenish the adipocytes and insulate the body to keep it warm." and on the other hand "we need them to have healthy skin and hair", she says. It should also be remembered that these fats prove to be very satiating.

What foods are rich in healthy fats?

If you’ve ever heard of healthy fats, the famous avocado probably comes to mind. This is indeed rich in unsaturated fatty acids, but is not the only promising food. "Foods composed mainly of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as canola, olive, safflower, peanut, sunflower and corn oils.", says Palacios. They are also found in foods of animal origin, especially in "fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring."

Very interesting are also the vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids (especially if you are vegetarian or vegan), which include, in addition to the already mentioned avocado, "flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soy), nuts and other seeds (such as walnuts, white nuts or chia seeds)", according to the specialist. Nut butters (it is important that this is the only ingredient included) are also very interesting in this respect as z. B. the famous peanut butter.

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