Get the Goods: Avocados as a Source of Good Fats

The words good and fat don’t seem a likely pair. But in the context of a well-balanced diet, good fats might be just what you need.

You can’t — and shouldn’t — completely cut fats from your diet, but you can strive to get the right mix. Incorporating sources of good fats, like avocados, into your meals can help balance your fat and nutrient intake without compromising your heart health.

Read on for a closer look at what makes some fats good and why sources of good fats, like avocados, may fit well in a balanced diet.

The Skinny on Fats in Food

All fats are among the essential macro nutrients that provide caloric energy. They are an energy-dense form of food that supply nine calories per gram— more than twice as much as protein and carbohydrates. Your body needs the energy in calories to function, and with fats, you get more energy from less food.

Good fats also help the body absorb specific nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K. These nutrients are stored in fatty tissue and do great things for your body. For example, vitamin E helps keep your immune system strong and protects against tissue damage in your body.

Still, not all fats are created equal.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

Understanding the difference between good fats and bad fats starts with understanding the difference between good and bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol, or LDL, can build up in your blood vessels, putting you at greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. Good cholesterol, or HDL, helps you fight this buildup by carrying cholesterol to the liver, where it is then flushed from the body.

What are Bad Fats?

“Bad fats,” meaning saturated and trans fats, raise your levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Saturated fats raise both bad cholesterol, fats increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Both may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

What are Good Fats?

“Good fats,” meaning unsaturated fats, improve your dietary intake without raising bad cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, are mostly derived from plants, and replacing the bad fats in your diet with these goods fats may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Go Green — Choose the Good Fats in Avocados

Avocados are a good place to start when trading bad fats for good fats. Over 75% of the total fat in avocados is considered “good,” making our favorite green super food a heart-healthy choice with all-around goodness.

Once you have a better understanding of the function of good fats in your body, talk to your doctor about dietary sources of good fats that you can incorporate into your diet. He or she may provide a list of recommended foods — like the avocado.

Find out more about the nutrients in avocados.

By Barbara Ruhs, MD, RDN June 19, 2019

An avid avocado-eater and guacamole-lover, Barb is the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for Avocados From Mexico and former sports nutritionist for Harvard University. Her philosophy on food is simple: Enjoy what you eat, prepare food with love, and add avocados to everything! 

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