We’ve come to the last group of foods after going through starchy grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and dairy. Today it’s time to point out the best superfoods from the food group called fats.
And no, fats are not something we should avoid as they are essential for our health, just like all other food groups.
What we should know, however, is that there are different types of fat, some of them being healthy while others not.
Fats that are good for our health are unsaturated fats which can be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They help lower the risk of heart disease and reduce cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, unhealthy fats include saturated fats and trans fats. They increase the risk of high blood cholesterol and heart disease.
Without further ado, here are the healthiest fats we should include in our diet.
Even though avocado belongs to the group of fruits, its rich fat content puts it in the group of fats as well. It is abundant in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which can help reduce LDL cholesterol.
Thanks to the phytosterols in their content, avocados can regulate blood cholesterol levels. What’s more, it’s high in potassium which is crucial for blood pressure control.
Besides supporting heart health, they also help control triglyceride and blood sugar levels. Also, they are rich in carotenoids which help protect against vision problems.
¼ cup of avocado contains 9g of fat, 4g of fiber, 5g of carbs, and 96 calories.
How to Choose
Select slightly soft avocados, and avoid those with cracks or sunken spots. If we buy hard avocados, we can ripen them by keeping them in a paper bag. Keep the ripe ones in the fridge and prevent them from turning brown by sprinkling some lemon juice on any cuts.
We can add avocado slices in sandwiches, salads, or spread soft ones on bread or crackers.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a nutrient powerhouse, containing magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, protein, zinc, vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, omega-3s, and phytosterols.
Thanks to their phytosterol content, they help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. That’s why pumpkin seeds are recommended for a heart-friendly diet.
On the other hand, the zinc, omega-3s, and carotenoid content give the seeds incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E, carotenoids, and other antioxidants which help lower inflammation and prevent free radical damage.
Forbes suggests that they can even reduce benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms. Others show that adding pumpkin seed powder or juice to one’s diet can help reduce blood glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes.
¼ cup of whole pumpkin seeds includes 3g of fat, 3g of protein, 9g of carbs, and 71 calories.
How to Choose
It’s always best to eat fresh seeds straight from a pumpkin, but we can do that just in autumn. The other option is to buy packaged seeds and make sure there’s no moisture in the container or package, as well as no sign of any insects.
Even though they grow in trees, olives must undergo some processing before we can eat them. There are many types of olives, some of the most common being Sevillano, Picholine, Barouni, Ascolano, Mission, and Manzanilla.
They are extremely high in heart-friendly vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. What’s more, olives contain the antioxidants flavonoids and polyphenols which is why they have anti-inflammatory effects.
They make incredibly healthy olive oil which can help reduce blood cholesterol.
10 black olives include 5g of fat, 3g of carbs, and 50 calories, while 10 green ones contain 4g of fat, 1g of carbs, and 40 calories.
How to Choose
We can choose olives in cans and jars, or select our own in barrels or tubs. Keep them in the fridge. There are many great ways to add olives to our diet. For example, we can use them in tuna or chicken salads or green salads or serve them as part of an appetizer tray.
4. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds come in different colors, ranging from yellow and ivory to black, red, and brown.
They are high in manganese, calcium, copper, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, and vitamin B1. Moreover, sesame seeds contain lignans, sesamolin, and sesamin, which can reduce cholesterol levels.
Animal studies have shown they can also reduce blood pressure. Other beneficial compounds present in sesame seeds are phytosterols. They help reduce cholesterol levels, which is why they boost heart health.
A tablespoon of these seeds contains 4g of fat, 1g of fiber, 2g of carbs, and 50 calories.
How to Choose
We can find them in packages or bulk. If we buy sesame seeds in bulk, we should check to see if there’s any moisture or insects. We don’t want to buy seeds that smell rancid. We can keep them in the fridge for up to 6 months. Otherwise, keep them in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.
Besides adding them to muffins, cookies, and other baked goods, we can also sprinkle some sesame seeds on vegetables or add them to sauces and salad dressings.