What Are Healthy Fats?

What Are Healthy Fats?

The ins and outs of unsaturated fats and why they’re beneficial for your body – from healthier hair and skin to stronger immunities.

Gone are the days of fat-free diets where the carb is king. In the last decade or so there’s been an epic dethroning and ‘fat’ has become the new ruler – but not just any fat – unsaturated fat has taken the crown!


Not all fats are equal, however. So while some are still considered unhealthy, unsaturated fats have been shown to offer a host of health benefits, from healthier hair and skin to helping shed some extra pounds!

What are unsaturated fats? Just call them Bond – Double Bond

When people say healthy fats, they are referring to unsaturated fats, either monounsaturated (containing one double bond) or polyunsaturated (containing two or more double bonds). Blofeld – we mean, saturated fats, however, are bondless because they are saturated with hydrogen atoms.

The ‘skinny’ on healthy fats, aka, the benefits of unsaturated fats

When eaten in place of saturated fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can: 

  • Support healthy body functions and processes, including building healthy new hair and skin cells
  • Aid in absorbing important vitamins (A, D, E, and K)
  • Allow for a properly functioning immune system (polyunsaturated fat is an essential fat source, meaning it’s a fat required for normal body functioning and cannot be made by the body, and so must be obtained from food)
  • Reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (as long as they don’t add extra calories to your diet)
  • Help with weight loss
  • Possibly help reduce the risk of cancer, inflammation and insulin resistance (olive oil especially)

Which foods are high in unsaturated fats?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends most of our daily fat intake come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. So, it’s important to know which foods to choose to access that unsaturated goodness!



When looking at oils and fats, the easiest way to tell the difference between the two is what state they’re in at room temperature. The hydrogen atoms we mentioned above keep saturated fats solid at room temperature, while most unsaturated fats remain liquid. So an easy rule of thumb is to search for fats that are liquid at room temperature.


In food, unsaturated fats are mainly found in plants and seafood though there are exceptions. Partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats) and certain tropical plant oils like coconut, palm and palm kernel oil are all higher in saturated fats.


Here are some examples of unsaturated or healthy fats:


Monounsaturated:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and pecans)
  • Olives
  • Seeds (pumpkin and sesame seeds)
  • Soft margarine (liquid, spray, and tub)
  • Vegetable oils (canola, olive, peanut, and safflower oils)
  • Mayonnaise and oil-based salad dressings
  • Some animal-based proteins

Polyunsaturated:

  • Fish (herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna)
  • Mayonnaise and oil-based salad dressings
  • Nuts (pine nuts and walnuts)
  • Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds)
  • Soft margarine (liquid, spray, and tub)
  • Vegetable oils (corn, cottonseed, soybean, and sunflower oils)

Helping unsaturated fats help you

Remember, the key here isn’t just eating more unsaturated fats. Since healthy fats are still fat, they offer a high concentration of calories. Simply adding more fats to your diet will quickly boost you above the recommended calorie and dietary fat limits. The trick is to replace those bad (saturated) fats with the good (unsaturated) fats to keep those healthy fat benefits working for your body.


So, instead of reaching for those deep fried potato chips, whip up some fresh salt and pepper smashed avocado toast! Mmm, mm. It will probably be a much more satisfying snack anyway ;)

Have your (olive oil) cake and eat it too!

Because healthy fats keep your body in good working order, it’s beneficial to start swapping them out for those high in saturated fat foods. Although, you still get to enjoy really great foods. it’s sort of like having your cake (made from olive oil of course) AND eating it too!


Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash