A balanced diet includes a healthy dose of fat, because the nutrient keeps your organs, cells, and body running smoothly. Years ago, people feared eating fat led to weight gain and was bad for your heart, but that’s not actually true. In fact, fat can reduce inflammation, prevent certain cancers, and improve heart health.
But some sources of fat are more beneficial than others, says Melanie Boehmer, MS, R.D., CDN, CISSN, and outpatient dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital.
“Focus on getting in the poly and monounsaturated fats,” she tells Men’s Health.
These are often referred to as “healthy fats.” So why are they healthy? Research indicates they can help lower blood pressure and levels of LDL cholesterol, often referred to as the “bad kind.”
Monounsaturated fats are commonly found in nuts, plants, and oils. Polyunsaturated fats are found in animals, like fish, in addition to plants, oils, nuts, and seeds.
The exact amount of fat you’ll need each day varies by person, but generally you’ll want to aim for no more than 35 percent of your total calories per day, according to the dietary guidelines. That’s roughly 70 grams for a 2,000 calorie diet.
Here are 10 healthy sources of fat to get you to that goal.
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Healthy source of fat: avocado
Go ahead and spend extra for guac, because Boehmer says avocados are one food everyone should eat–provided you enjoy them. In addition to monounsaturated fat, you’ll get plenty of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins K, and E. These help with things like keeping your blood healthy and your bones strong.
Healthy source of fat: coconut
The fat in coconut has a particular chemical structure that our body uses differently than other fats, says Boehmer. “It’s a bit more energizing,” she says.
Plus, it offers a unique flavor profile and is a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes including salads and smoothies.
Healthy source of fat: salmon
Healthy source of fat: sardines
This probably isn’t at the top of your grocery list, but Boehmer urges that fish eaters give sardines a chance.
“They’re an inexpensive ready-to-go meal option that is so underutilized,” she says.
A can of sardines contains roughly 200 calories, 23 grams of protein, and 10 grams of healthy fat. Add to a salad or on top of a hearty piece of bread for a full meal.
Healthy source of fat: eggs
It’s time to stop buying into the myth that eggs are bad for your heart. That’s because there’s no research indicating the food, and yes that includes the yolk, negatively affects your cholesterol, Men’s Health previously reported.
A good source of omega-3 fatty acids, a single egg contains about 70 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein. Plus, they’re inexpensive and super versatile.
Healthy source of fat: Brazil nuts
Nuts usually have larger amounts of minerals than other foods, Men’s Health previously reported. Brazil nuts are loaded in selenium, which is important for our immune systems.
An ounce of nuts is about 200 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein.
Healthy source of fat: olive oil
A Mediterranean Diet staple, olive oil is a healthy source of fat, vitamin E and polyphenols, the latter which are antioxidants. Studies indicate that polyphenols may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic conditions.
However, you’ll want to enjoy it in moderation as the calories can add up: two tablespoons contain 240 calories and 27 grams of fat.
Healthy source of fat: pumpkin seeds
Add these to your guac for double-dose of healthy fats that’s also delicious.
“Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of magnesium that most Americans fall short of getting enough,” Liz Weinandy, R.D. at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, previously told Men’s Health. This keeps our blood sugar levels, muscles and blood pressure healthy.
Healthy source of fat: almond butter
Add a serving of almond butter to your morning oatmeal for healthy fat and some Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage. You’ll also get some 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein in two tablespoons, both of which help keep you full for longer.
Healthy source of fat: chia seeds
Include these in your parfait, smoothies, or oatmeal for a good source of B vitamins, which may improve brain health.
Plus, you’ll get a good mix of healthy fat and fiber. An ounce of chia seeds has 8 grams of healthy fat and almost 10 grams of fiber.
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