Smooth functioning of body require sufficient amount of healthy fats along with proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.
For better health and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) one should limit the intake of saturated fats and increase intake of healthy fats.
Evidence from several study have established that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates, specifically refined, has no benefit as for as CVD risk is concern. But replacing saturated fat or carbohydrate with polyunsaturated fats have reduces the risk of CVD
Dietary guidelines from the WHO and other sources have recommend a total fat intake between 20 and 35% of total calories.
Different kind of fats
Total fats are the sum total of the following fats;
Saturated fat- Saturated fat is a type of dietary fat which are unhealthy and solid at room temperature.
Trans fat- Trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats intake is associated with raise LDL-C, raise triglycerides, lower HDL-C, increase inflammation and many more health issues.
Monounsaturated fat– They are like saturated fats. Cis-monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are readily produced by liver in response to carbohydrate consumption. They are not required in the diet.
Polyunsaturated fat- Cis-polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) is an essential fatty acids and have numerous health benefit.
Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids get synthesized in the body for energetic, physiological and structural functions. They are also present in many foods. Palmitic acid is one well known saturated fatty acid in the diet. It also synthesized in the liver from starch and sugar via de novo lipogenesis. Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are also rich in the dairies and meats.
Sources of healthy fats for vegan
There are a number of easily available source of fats for vegan which can be included in their regular diet to fulfill their daily requirements. Some of these source are described here.
Tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts and many more are the rich in healthy fats apart from dietary fiber and protein.
Nuts are high in vitamin E as well as mineral like magnesium, which is reported the second most common deficiency in the developed world after vitamin D.
Eating of nuts are associated with a lower risk of various diseases (including heart disease and diabetes) and better health.
Although nuts are high in calories, but those who eat nuts have a lower risk of obesity in the long run.
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is a rich source of fats and an essential component in the Mediterranean diet.
Mediterranean diet are well proven for numerous health benefits including lower risk of CVD.
Extra virgin olive oil is also loaded with vitamins (such as E and K) and antioxidants which prevent and fight against inflammation. These antioxidants also prevent LDL particles oxidation in the blood.
Study have shown that use of olive oil lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol markers, and have numerous other benefits to heart.
Flax seeds are small brown or yellow seeds with huge amount of omega-3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Its oil is also often used as an omega-3 supplement.
Apart from rich source of omega 3-fat, it is also packed with high quality both insoluble and soluble fiber dietary fibers, magnesium, and other nutrients.
Coconuts and Coconut Oil
Both coconuts and coconut oil are one of the richest sources of saturated fat.
Fats found in the coconut and its oil are easily metabolized in the liver and get turned into ketone bodies.
Coconut is also rich in the dietary fiber.
Full fat yogurt are rich in the fats as well as loaded with healthy, probiotic bacteria which promote health.
Yogurt improve the digestive health and prevent heart diseases and obesity.
The avocado is a kind of fruits loaded with huge amount of healthy fats.
Avocados contains about 77% fat by calories, which make it even higher in fat than most animal based foods.
The main fatty acid found in avocados are mono and saturated fat called oleic acid, which is also predominant in olive oil. Oleic acid is associated with numerous health benefits.
Avocados are also rich source of potassium and dietary fiber.
Dark chocolate is one of those rare health foods that actually tastes incredible, but it is quite high in fat.
Dark chocolate accounts for around 65% of its calories.
Dark chocolate is assumed healthy because it contains 11% fiber and huge amount of iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. It is also loaded with antioxidants.
Dark chocolate consumption is associated with to a wide spectrum of health benefits.
Benefit of healthy fats
Clinical trials have proven that PUFA and MUFA in the diet improves cardiometabolic risk factors.
Mediterranean diets which are rich in fat (typically 35–40% of kcal or more) have been associated with the several health benefit.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) emphasized intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts while limiting sweets and red meats is associated with reducing cardiovascular risk.
Substitution of healthy unsaturated fats for saturated fats and trans fats reduces total and LDL cholesterol and risk for CVD and type 2 diabetes.
Higher intake of trans fats are associated with increased risk of CVD, so their intake should be minimized as much as possible.
The evidence of cardioprotective benefits for replacing saturated fats with PUFAs, especially linoleic acid, is stronger than for replacement with MUFAs.
Intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease.