While many of us are wary of eating too much fat, a healthy balanced diet actually requires a certain amount of it – fat provides the body with valuable energy and nutrients for various important functions.
However, the kind of fat in the food we eat is also definitely something worth thinking about, when it comes to maintaining cholesterol at a desirable level, for example. Unsaturated fat foods, in particular, are considered a ‘good fat’ foods, offering certain benefits as a replacement for ‘bad’ saturated fat.
So, what is unsaturated fat and why is it good for you? Keep reading to find out.
Unsaturated fat: a definition
Unsaturated fat is found in high amounts in nuts, seeds, oily fish, and vegetable oils such as sunflower, soya and olive oil, as well as vegetable oil-based soft spreads. Omega-3 and -6 are also consider unsaturated fat.
Why is unsaturated fat good for you?
It is well established that replacing saturated fat in your diet with unsaturated fat can help lower LDL-cholesterol, one of the risk factors in the development of coronary heart disease*. Saturated fat can be found in full fat dairy and fatty meat products, as well as many prepared foods like cakes and biscuits.
Want to replace saturated with unsaturated fat foods? Here are some handy ideas to start with.
How to eat more ‘good fat’ foods
Unsaturated fats – also known as ‘good fat’ foods – are not that hard to find as you might think. Find below some ideas for your diet:
- Vegetable oils and vegetable oil-based soft spreads, like Flora ProActiv, are good sources of unsaturated fat.
- Nuts and seeds don’t just contain ‘good’ fats, but also fibre, another important component of a healthy balanced diet. Learn more about the benefits of fibre foods here.
- Oily Fish. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and trout are all good examples of oily fish, perfect to include in your unsaturated fat diet. Oily fish is both flavoursome and contains plenty of unsaturated fat. Try eating fish twice a week, basing one of those meals on oily fish – a number of studies have indicated that fish Omega-3 can contribute towards the normal functioning of the heart. And if you need inspiration here are two tasty recipes using oily fish: Mackerel with Moroccan Spices or Baked Trout with Almonds.
- Snack on unsalted nuts. They make an easy snack on the go, perfect for replacing foods like pastries that are often high in saturated fat. A trail mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit is a handy way to eat a little more fibre as well as unsaturated fat. Avoid roasted nuts, however, as these often have added oils that add to their calorie content.
- Cook with vegetable oils such as sunflower or olive oil. Vegetable oils are an easy way to up your unsaturated fat intake as you prepare food, making them good alternatives to cooking with butter or coconut oil that are high in saturated fat.
- Use seeds as toppings. Sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are all readily available in most supermarkets, and are great sprinkled on top of salads, desserts, and cooked vegetables.
- Replace saturated fat with unsaturated or reduced fat options. Dairy foods like milk, cheese, butter, and cream are often high in saturated fat. The good news is that they can be easily swapped for reduced fat alternatives, such as our range of products. This includes skimmed milk and delicious vegetable oil-based soft spreads that also contain added plant sterols, an active ingredient that is clinically proven to significantly lower LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol. **
For more tips on eating healthy, visit our recipe section here. Also, find out how to start lowering your cholesterol with our cholesterol lowering Starter Kit – it’s completely free!
* There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce overall risk of it.
** A daily consumption of 1,5 – 3g plant sterol can lower cholesterol with 10-12,5% in 2-3 weeks as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.
This information has been included in good faith, but is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a guarantee. The nutritional facts and statements on this site are designed for educational and resource purpose sonly, not being substitutes for professional advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always check with your GP or healthcare professional.