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: unsaturated fat foods aren’t actually that hard to find and can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet!
Need some examples of unsaturated fat-packed foods 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 great sources of unsaturated fats and make for a great snack for mid-afternoon energy lows. Make sure to go for the unsalted varieties, as commercial roasted nuts are often 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 toast and sprinkling with olives 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 and some raisins make an appealing snack for kids. Alternatively, blend a tablespoon with a few soft bananas before freezing to make a delicious ice cream treat.
Vegetable oil-based products: If you’re wondering what foods contain unsaturated fats and can be used to replace butter – which is high in saturated fat – vegetable oil-based products are the answer. There are loads of great soft-spreads and cooking oils that use a blend of vegetable oils, helping you get more unsaturated fat into your diet. For those of us who need to control their cholesterol, Flora ProActiv spreads are particularly good options. These spread contain added plant sterols, which have been shown to help lowering cholesterol**.
Sardines: A flavoursome type of oily fish with plenty of Omega-3, thought to help contribute to the normal functioning of the heart. Tinned sardines are particularly tasty spread on wholemeal toast with a drizzle of lemon juice. Just remember that tinned sardines are often quite salty, so read the packaging to ensure your portion contributes a reasonable amount of the recommended daily allowance, with enough room for any salt coming from your other meals.
Seeds: An easy snack on-the-go and great for vegetarians! Sprinkle seeds over salads, in cereal, include in a trail mix with plenty of dried fruits, or bake into flapjacks to up your vegetable Omega-3 intake.
Salmon: Like sardines, salmon is an oily fish often recommended to help maintain good 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 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. Examples of foods you could avoid by cooking with vegetable oils include butter and coconut oil.
Flax seeds: Another great source of Omega-3, although best eaten when ground to get the most unsaturated fat – 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 recommended daily amount of energy.
There are so many options for ‘good fat’ foods that it’s increasingly easy to make the switch. For more helpful diet tips and advice on how to start lowering your cholesterol today, get our Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit here!
* As coronary heart disease has multiple risk factors, more than one may need to be improved to reduce overall risk of it.
** 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.