Most people have heard of saturated and unsaturated fat, and many of us are aware that we should be eating less of the first and more of the second. But how can we actually put this into practice? Well, here’s some good news: foods that are good sources of unsaturated fat aren’t actually that hard to find and can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet!
Need some examples of foods that are good sources of unsaturated fat you can find easily in most shops? Here is a list of 9 popular (and tasty) foods that contain unsaturated fats, with some recipe ideas to help get you started.
Unsaturated fat: a foods list to try!
Nuts: Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and macadamia nuts are all good sources of unsaturated fats and make for a great mid-afternoon snack. Make sure to go for the unsalted varieties, as commercial roasted nuts are often coated in salt and cooked in plenty of oil. Try taking a handful (around 30g) as a tasty alternative to chocolate bars and puddings.
Avocado: Smooth and delicately flavoured, avocados are for more than just guacamole. Try spreading it on wholegrain toast and sprinkling with seeds or sliced vegetables for a quick and healthy breakfast. Avocado goes particularly well with smoked salmon on wholegrain toast, or in a Florida sushi roll.
Peanut butter: Another source of protein, and great with fruit. A sliced apple with peanut butter (try and choose a no added sugar and salt version) makes an appealing choice for kids. Alternatively, blend a tablespoon with a few soft bananas before freezing to make a delicious ice cream treat.
Vegetable oils and spreads made from them*: If you’re wondering what foods contain unsaturated fats and can be used to replace butter – which is high in saturated fat – vegetable oils and spreads made from them are the answer. There are many soft-spreads that use a blend of vegetable oils, and you can find a selection of different cooking and salad oils, helping you get more unsaturated fat into your diet. For those of us who need to lower cholesterol, Flora ProActiv spreads in a healthy, balanced diet may be a good option. These spreads contain added plant sterols, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol**.
Sardines: A flavoursome type of oily fish with plenty of Omega-3, which contribute to the normal functioning of the heart. Canned sardines are particularly tasty spread on wholemeal toast with a drizzle of lemon juice. Just remember that canned sardines are often quite salty (when canned with salt added), so read the label to choose ones with the lowest salt content.
Seeds: An easy snack on-the-go and great for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike! Sprinkle seeds over salads, in cereal, include in a trail mix with dried fruits, or bake into flapjacks to up your Omega-3 intake.
Salmon: Like sardines, salmon is an oily fish often recommended for containing omega-3, which help maintain normal heart function. Versatile and boasting plenty of flavour, it’s often the first example listed whenever people ask for examples of unsaturated fats in foods. Try replacing red meat in some meals with cooked salmon: it’s great with a dab of pesto and boiled new potatoes, or with a dill sauce.
Vegetable oils: These can help you reduce saturated fats in your diet and increase the unsaturated fats. Unsaturated vegetable oils include rapeseed, olive and sunflower oil. Examples of foods you could limit by cooking with vegetable oils include butter and lard, which are both high in saturated fats. Do remember coconut oil is also high in saturated fats.
Flax seeds (also known as Linseed): Another great source of Omega-3– add to porridge, muesli, or salads.
When planning to add the above foods to your diet, remember that foods that contain unsaturated fats can often be high in energy – avocados and nuts are quite calorie dense, something which should be taken into account when adding them to your meals to ensure your diet is balanced and within the guidelines for your recommended daily amount of energy.
There are so many options for foods that contain healthier fats. For more helpful diet tips and advice on how to start lowering your cholesterol today, get our Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit here!
** Flora ProActiv contains plant sterols, which have been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Consuming 1.5-2.4g of plant sterols per day can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks when consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Individual results may vary.
- European Commission (2016) EU register on nutrition and health claims. (accessed 16 May 2019).
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2018). Saturated Fats and Health. (accessed 16 May 2019).
- Stanner S & Coe S (2019) Cardiovascular Disease: Diet, Nutrition and Emerging Risk Factors, 2nd Edition, Keith N Frayn, Chair.Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, UK.
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