When choosing the best foods for a healthy diet it is important to not completely eliminate fat. Omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are considered healthy fats. Healthy fats differ from unhealthy fats because healthy fats are responsible for numerous bodily functions, where unhealthy fats are empty calories which have no nutritional value.
Before looking at the different types of healthy fats, it is important to understand the bodily functions that healthy fat is generally responsible for. The human brain is made up of 60 percent fat. Fat is essential for brain functions such as memory, learning capability and mood.
Additionally, fat serves as a cushion and insulator for body organs and nerves and helps the heart to function regularly, because 60 percent of the heart’s energy comes from burning fat. Individual cells use fat to build membranes and the presence of fat helps cells to remain flexible. Healthy fat also plays a role in the proper function of lungs, eyes and the immune system.
Healthy fat is also important for the digestive system. Fat helps to slow down the rate of digestion, which allows for the absorption of nutrients and provides a constant level of energy to the body. Consumption of healthy fat will also help to satisfy hunger for longer periods of time.
The first type of fat is polyunsaturated fat, which is found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed and soy. They are also found in nuts and seeds. Lowered blood pressure and triglyceride levels are two benefits that polyunsaturated are responsible for.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that are known as the healthiest of all fats. They are found in salmon, mackerel, sardines and other fatty fish. Omega-3’s are also found in flax seed, flax seed oil, soybeans, walnuts and canola oil. The primary function of omega-3’s is their responsibility in reducing incidences of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In addition to fighting CVD, omega-3 fatty acids are believed to be a possible prevention and treatment for liver cancer, depression and dementia.
The third type of healthy fat is monounsaturated fat. These fats can be found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocadoes and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and pecans. Monounsaturated fats are believed to lower the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while possibly increasing the good high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol. Additionally, monounsaturated fats may help lower blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity.