You don’t need to steer clear of fat — in fact, there are certain types of fats, often referred to as “heart-healthy fats,” that you may want to add to your diet to boost your heart health.
If you like guacamole, here’s some good news for you. Avocados are one of the best foods to eat for heart-healthy fats, along with olive oil, a variety of nuts and seeds as well as certain oils and fish.
So what makes these fats better for you than eating a bowl of ice cream? The difference is that the fats that are considered heart-healthy are those that are unsaturated. Both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can actually contribute to improved heart health. Unsaturated fats tend to come from plants and whole foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, versus saturated fats, which tend to come from sources such as dairy and processed meats and foods.
Consuming high amounts of saturated fat has been closely linked to high cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, the leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to add healthier unsaturated fats to your diet.
Below we’ve listed foods high in heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that you can start incorporating into your diet today.
Foods that contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats:
- Olive oil
- Nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and macadamia nuts
Foods that contain heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats:
- Seeds, including flax seeds and sunflower seeds
- Fatty fish, including salmon, anchovies, mackerel, trout and tuna
Eating more foods with heart-healthy fats can help reduce your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Not only that, but they also boost brain function.
Incorporating heart-healthy fats into your diet is easy when you get a little bit creative. For example, you can use avocado spread as a substitute for mayo, diced avocado as a salad topper or sprinkle some flax and sunflower seeds into a salad or bowl of oatmeal.
While exercise is important to maintain heart health, nutrition is just as important. Speaking with a nutritionist or dietitian can help you better understand what foods to add to your diet – as well as others to limit – in order to improve your heart health.
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