The common perception is that fats make us fat and we should try to eliminate fat from our diet completely. But the truth is that not all fats are harmful for our body. Like protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals, our body also needs fats, for performing many important functions like maintaining body temperature, providing energy to body, for building healthy body cells, promoting healthy skin and hair and also for helping the intestine to digest certain fat soluble vitamins. Most importantly, fat is essential for protection of heart, intestine and kidney. By forming a layer around these organs, they act as cushion and protect them from injury.
Types Of Fats
There are mainly three types of fatd found in food: saturated fatty acids, trans-saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Not all fats are good for our health. Only unsaturated fats, which is further divided into monounsaturated fats and poly unsaturated fats, are called good fats and are beneficial for our health. Non-vegetarians easily get their required amount of healthy fats from their diet but vegetarians often turn to butter, cream, cheese and other milk product to get required dose of fat. But opposed to popular belief, these kinds of fat falls under saturated fat and can increase your body weight along with raising your cholesterol level.
If You Are A Pure Vegetarian, You Can Get Enough Good Fats From The Following Foods.
1. Avocados And Olives
Avocados and olives are high in healthy mono-unsaturated fats. In single 100 gm serving, along with other important nutrients, 77% of calories in it are from fat, which makes it the fattiest plant food in the world. The majority of fat contained in avocado is oleic acid which has been linked to reduce inflammation and even have beneficial effects on the genes that has been linked to cancer. Similarly, heart healthy oleic acid is also major component of olive and olive oil. 100 grams of olives contain only 15 gms of fat. Fats in avocado and olives are resistant to heat-induced oxidation. This is why avocado and olive oil are considered safest choice for cooking. They also help in lowering cholesterol level.
2. Almonds, Walnuts, Cashew And Hazel nuts
Walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are good for our heart health and help to maintain good cholesterol level. They help to make you feel full quickly. But they should be eaten in moderation without added salt.
3. Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fats. They are rich in fiber, good for maintaining heart health and also promote digestion. You can sprinkle flaxseed powder over cereal, smoothies, oatmeal etc. It can be used as a substitute for egg in vegetarian baking. Flaxseed oil can be used as healthy source of fat as well.
4. Soy Beans
Along with highest protein content among all the plants foods, soy beans are high in fat too. Soy beans are processed into different soy products like soy milk, soy flour, tofu and fermented products like miso and tempeh. Most of the fat contained in soybean is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat which includes omega-3 fatty acids. Soybean and soybean products are good alternatives for vegetarian to get their required quantity of Fat.
Very few people know that cauliflower also contains omega-3 fatty acids in considerable amount, making this vegetable good for heart health. 1 cup of cauliflower contains almost 37mg of omega-3s. To retain the nutrients, steaming is the best way to cook them.
6. Winter Squash
Winter squashes are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and include butternut squash, corn, pumpkins etc. which vegans or vegetarian can easily incorporate in their diet to get their fat intake.
Like nuts, seeds also provides good dose of fat. Chia seeds contains healthy dose of omega-3 and also provides calcium and hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 along with protein. Some other seeds which contains good amount of omega-3 fatty acids are pumpkin seeds, sunflower and safflower.
To absorb vitamin from your diet, our body needs fat. Fat is also essential for building cellular structures and maintaining healthy immune system. Though mayonnaise is a fattening food and should be consumed in moderation, but it is good source of fat for vegetarian as most of the fat contained in mayonnaise is unsaturated fat. It contains saturated fat to some extent but less than an equal quantity of butter. You can opt for low fat or non-fat version also, but you must check the sodium content before buying.
Try these plant-based delicious fat sources in your diet and get your daily intake of good fat necessary for good health.