Seven Unsaturated Fat Foods for Cardiac Health

People are now better informed and very aware of the food they eat as a way to keep healthy. There is lots of information available, especially online, of what foods are safe to consume and what foods to avoid to maintain a healthy body. Fats form a very big part of this food revolution. We now know that there are bad fats and good, heart-healthy fats that are essential to our bodies for optimum health. Unsaturated fat is the good type of fat necessary for a healthy heart.

Seven Examples of Unsaturated Fat Foods

1. Almonds

Eating raw almonds is a great way to get some protein in addition to the healthy unsaturated fats they contain. When you roast the nut, you destroy the healthy oil. The recommended serving size is about 8 almonds. Eating more than this amount can lead to an increased calorie intake and weight gain. Snacking a handful of almonds with raisins is a better alternative than your mid-afternoon chocolate bar.

2. Avocado

This fruit can be incorporated into your diet to provide some omega-3 as well. The smooth and creamy texture makes it a great substitute for cheese or mayonnaise. The always popular guacamole is a great dip for any party.

3. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter can sometimes be manufactured by hydrogenation which renders the healthy nut butter unhealthy. Buy a brand that contains no hydrogenated ingredients. A serving size is about 1-2 tablespoons spread on some toast.

4. Nuts

Nut is one of the unsaturated fat foods that can be taken regularly as snacks. Walnuts are great to add to salads or homemade muesli. Hazel nuts are rich in protein and great for snacking on. Eat Macadamia nuts raw to get the full benefit of the healthy oils they contain.

5. Seeds

Seeds are full of protein, unsaturated fats and fiber. Incorporate seeds, such as flaxseeds, into your breakfast granola or snacks. To get full benefit from flaxseeds, grind them into a powder to sprinkle over porridge or salads for your omega-3 requirements. Read food labels and steer clear of brands that use high quantities of salt in the manufacturing process.

6. Salmon

This excellent source of protein packs in enough unsaturated fat to keep you healthy. This very versatile fish can be prepared in almost any way from frying to grilling. For an extra flavor punch, drizzle the salmon with some lemon juice and olive oil.

7. Vegetable Oils

A good example is olive oil which is a very healthy alternative to using butter which is a saturated fat. Olive oil contains both omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, which is essential to the body. Olive oil also forms a great salad dressing or to cook meat or vegetables with. Use vegetable oil based products like soft-spreads and some cooking oils to replace cooking with butter.

How Much Unsaturated Fat Should I Consume Per Day?

Most nutritionists agree that your fat intake for the day should not exceed more than 35% of the total daily calorie intake. Less than 1% of this fat intake can be trans fats and about 7% can be saturated fats. The other component of your daily fat intake should come from unsaturated fat foods (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). A good guide, according to the Institute of Medicine, is if you need 1600 calories per day you should aim to consume between 36-62 grams of fat. If you require 2500 calories per day, then you should consume between 56-97 grams of fat daily.

Daily total calorie requirements differ for men and women. Usually healthy women require between 1600 and 2400 calories per day while men require a daily calorie intake of between 2000 to 3000. These guidelines to daily calorie requirements also depend largely on whether the individual leads an active or sedentary lifestyle. 

Tips to Cut Down on Bad Fats Intake

Try to include fat sources from fish at least twice a week to your diet. You can make gradual changes in your diet to reduce fat from meat and dairy sources and cut down on your intake of bad trans fats. Never attempt to cut out all fats from your diet because fats play an important role in maintaining a healthy body in terms of storing energy, keeping hair and skin healthy and maintaining body temperature.

Health Benefits of Unsaturated Fat Foods

  • It increases the HDL (high density lipoprotein) component of cholesterol. This protects the heart and other organs from artery plaque formation which can block the arteries from performing optimally. They do not increase the LDL (low density lipoprotein) as the trans fat does.
  • It decreases your risks for cardiovascular disease. This includes conditions like stroke, hypertension, heart failure, etc.
  • They are a good source of energy for the various body processes.
  • They are important in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, like vitamins K, D, E and A.
  • Unsaturated fats maintain cell wall structure in the body. Insufficient fats can lead to a breakdown of the cell wall.