The secret to dropping pounds, reducing your risk of heart disease, and feeling better overall may just be filling your plate with fats. While eating more fat doesn't mean drowning your veggies in butter, it does mean focusing on two types of "good" fats: MUFAs, or monounsaturated fats, and PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats), which include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Why are good fats so, well, good for you? For one, unsaturated fats contain disease-fighting antioxidants like vitamin E, and have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol levels to reduce your risk of heart disease. Plus, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are important for keeping many of our body functions, like our immune system and heart, in top shape. If you're trying to drop pounds here's another important reasons to embrace good fats: MUFAS have been shown to help burn away belly fat.
While MUFAs and PUFAs reign supreme, a little bit of saturated fat in your diet may not be as bad as previously thought. Recent studies have suggested that saturated fats in foods like milk, cheese, and meat may not be as harmful as previously thought, after a analysis found no correlation between a high saturated fat diet and an increased risk of heart disease. Coconut oil, a plant-based saturated fat, has actually been shown to raise levels of the "good" cholesterol, HDL, in recent studies. Current guidelines still suggest limiting your saturated and trans fats intake, however, so it's up to you to make educated decisions about how much you should eat.
That said, eating more fat isn't a bad thing, as long as it's done in moderation. Remember that fats, whether good or bad, are still high in calories, so be sure to keep this in mind when you plan your diet; current dietary guidelines suggest that for a 2000-calorie diet the daily intake of fat, including healthy fats, should be no more than 65 grams. Registered dietitian Julie Upton recommends replacing "low-quality carbs or other foods rich in saturated fats" with foods high in MUFAs and PUFAs to help accommodate the extra calories. Check out our list of some of the best sources of unsaturated fats below, and keep these numbers in mind while you adjust to adding more fat to your diet.
|Food||Portion||Calories||Total Fat (grams)||PUFAs (grams)||MUFAs (grams)|
|Almonds||1 ounce (23 almonds)||171||15.6||3.8||9.8|
|Canola oil||1 tbsp.||124||14||4.1||8.3|
|Chia seeds||1 ounce||137||8.6||0.6||6.5|
|Dark chocolate||1 square||27||1.9||0.05||0.6|
|Flaxseed||1 tbsp. ground||37||3||2||0.5|
|Olive oil||1 tbsp.||119||14||1.4||9.8|
|Peanut oil||1 tbsp.||119||13.5||4.3||6.2|
|Pistachios||1 ounce (49 kernels)||158||12.6||3.8||6.6|
|Safflower oil||1 tbsp.||120||13.6||2||10.1|
|Salmon||3 ounces cooked||175||10.5||3.8||3.8|
|Soybean oil||1 tbsp.||119||14||7.8||3.1|
|Walnuts||1 ounce (14 halves)||173||17||9.8||4.2|