Fats were the villain of years past when fat-free diets were all the rage. Luckily for our health (and our taste buds), we now know we need certain types of fat in our diet. Fats have lots of functions in our body – they provide energy, help us absorb certain vitamins, and make up crucial parts of cells, just to name a few.
There are many types of fats, but we’ll keep our focus on the foods that have the fats that benefit our health. One in particular gets a lot of buzz – omega-3 fatty acids. You may have heard of omega-3’s from a doctor, a friend, or even the internet. It’s an important one since it plays a role in heart health and managing inflammation. Most people don’t eat nearly enough, so it’s good to get at least one source of omega-3’s each day.
So how can you boost healthy fats (including omega-3’s) in your diet? We’ve got you covered.
1. Choose fatty fish
Choose fatty fish (for that omega-3 content!) over beef or pork when you can. Salmon, tuna, trouth, sardines, and mackerel are all good options. Aim to get at least 2 servings a week if possible. Some brands of canned fish like Wild Planet ® or SafeCatch ® still contain a large amount of omega-3s. Bonus: since fish cooks quickly you can have dinner ready in a flash. Check out this baked salmon to get you started.
2. Cook with healthy oils
Cooking with high quality plant oils adds healthy fats to your meals and also increases your absorption of vitamins A, E, D, and K that are found in foods.
- Olive oil (use medium-low heat, or on dishes that do not require heat)
- Avocado oil (can use for higher heat cooking)
- Coconut oil (can use for higher heat cooking)
- Sesame oil (use medium-low heat, or on dishes that do not require heat)
- Canola oil (use more sparingly)
3. Use healthy fats as garnish
Garnishes can add more than visual appeal, they can also add some healthy fats to your meal. Here are our favorites:
- Cubed avocado
- Sliced olives
- Pine nuts
- Pepitas (Pumpkin seeds)
- Sesame seeds
- Slivered almonds
- Chopped macadamia nuts
- Walnut pieces (good source of omega-3’s)
- Coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Sardines, herring, or mackerel
We love these sweet potato and black bean tacos that use an avocado and pepita dip as a garnish.
4. Make more salads
Make your salads delicious and nutritious by adding garnishes containing healthy fats, and using salad dressings with an olive oil, avocado oil, or sesame oil base. Check out this delish kale salad that incorporates olive oil in the dressing, and avocado and pepitas as a garnish. Learn how to make yummy homemade salad dressings for every mood!
5. Snacks with healthy fats!
Healthy fats are an important part of creating a balanced snack. Here are some yummy ideas to get you started:
- Guacamole with vegetables and plantain chips
- Almond or peanut butter on whole-grain crackers
- Whole-milk plain yogurt (Greek or regular) with fresh fruit and nuts
- Nuts (almonds, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts)
- Seeds (pepitas, sunflower)
- Hard-boiled egg
- Hummus with veggies (cucumber, bell peppers, sugar snap peas)
To get an extra boost of omega-3’s by adding chia seed, flaxseed, or walnuts to snacks like smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on May 26, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.