By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Want to know about the best heart healthy fats and healthy fat snacks? Read on for a primer on why you should add these foods to your day.
quiz: Do you know the difference between saturated fat, omega-3s, and other types of fats? If you know the answers, I am so impressed!
Looking to improve heart health, including your blood pressure? Fats get victimized, but the truth is some fats are good for you and some simply aren't.
Luckily, I'm here to take out the guesswork from your detective work on fats. From snacks to seafood, I'm setting the facts about fats straight—and sharing this heart-healthy fats list with you.
Here's a fact: Eating some high-fat foods is a beneficial thing. These good-for-you fats can help lower your "bad" cholesterol and increase your "good" cholesterol, all while helping to reduce your risk of heart disease. They can even help your weight.
The Healthiest Fish to Eat
Long before I was a pescatarian, I took omega-3 supplements on the daily. Why? Because EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, are super beneficial food to your health.
Want to eat more fish? Here's why eating seafood is good for your health. Also check out which healthy fish I recommend eating on the regular, in this INSIDER article. Fish are a great source of protein, too!
More Top Healthy Fats
I’ve been eating a lot of avocado lately. It’s so creamy and delicious—and I love it blended into a smoothie or a fruit-based ice cream, or as a topper to an omelet or frittata. And studies suggest that healthy fats are helpful for health in many ways.
A systematic review of randomized controlled trials in PLOS One suggests that healthy fats like the ones in walnuts, grapeseed oil, and avocado may offer many health benefits.
In the review study, authors looked at 102 clinical trials. They found hat people who substitute some of the carbs and saturated fat in their diet for polyunsaturated fats may get heart-healthy benefits and better control of their blood sugar levels—including HbA1c, a three-month average of blood sugar levels.
The researchers suggest eating more vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and avocado—and less butter, meat, bread, baked goods, and sugar. Here are some easy and delicious food swaps to get you started:
Swap out butter for grapeseed oil or avocado.
Grapeseed oil has a neutral flavor and a medium-high heat smoke point—helpful when stir-frying or roasting. Per Tablespoon, it offers more polyunsaturated fats, 9.5 grams, than many other oils.
Instead of spreading butter on bread all the time, substitute in mashed avocado. A quarter of an avocado has almost 6 grams of mono- and polyunsaturated fat.
Swap out steak or pork for salmon or edamame.
Not only does salmon boast heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it also contains unsaturated fats. Three ounces of cooked salmon has 10.5 grams of fat—and 7 grams of that is the poly- and monounsaturated fat variety. Edamame is a great choice, as well, and provide almost 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat per ½ cup.
Swap out baked goods for nuts.
About 100 calories gets you a cookie or half a brownie. But for the same calorie count, you can have a small handful of almonds. These nuts offer about 9 grams of monounsaturated fat per ounce.
Plus, nuts are good for you in so many ways. They're a good source of fiber and are a small but mighty bite perfect for on-the-go snacking. How else can you use nuts?
Check out this Food Network article, in which I share the deets on my favorite ways to add nuts to meals. Wondering about seeds for weight loss (such as chia seeds and flax seeds) and if you should be eating peanut butter and other nut butters?
By the way, curious about foods that fight belly fat? You can do so by eating more healthy fat! Simple lifestyle changes, like making breakfast and including more veggies, can help you lose weight everywhere—including your belly.
What are the best foods to fight belly fat? I break down the research on minimizing the harmful fat in my EverydayHealth.com article. Want to know more about heart-healthy fats and if you should be eating peanut butter?
And of course, we just talked about making swaps. But it's so important to avoid eating trans fats at all, because they can increase your LDL cholesterol levels.
Amy's Heart-Healthy Recipe to Try
Whip up this healthy
breakfast: Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats with
Maybe you think healthy fats like nuts are just for savory dishes. Nope! I love adding pistachios to overnight oats.
This recipe is oh-so simple to whip up and full of heart healthy fats that are vegetarian, along with plenty of protein. The combo will help keep you full for hours to come.
Whip out that mason jar and start meal prepping! If you're a fan of overnight recipes, also try mango overnight oats and an overnight barley breakfast. Looking for even more heart-healthy snacks and recipes to help improve heart health?
This blog post was updated in July 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
- 9 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat, According to a Nutritionist,
- The Best Diabetes-Friendly Foods to Help Fight Belly Fat,
- Effects of Saturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat, Monounsaturated Fat, and Carbohydrate on Glucose-Insulin Homeostasis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Feeding Trials, PLOS One
- How to Eat More Nuts,
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I'd love to hear from you! Which of these best healthy fats do you eat often? Do you choose low fat or full fat? What's your favorite heart-healthy fat?
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