Fat. We all need it, but did you know that where you get it can affect your long-term health? A growing body of research shows that the risk of cardiovascular disease and other causes of mortality can be decreased by lowering saturated fat intake—mostly derived from animal sources—and replacing with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
To help you make the switch, here are 10 plant-based foods full of those healthy fats.
For something so small, chia seeds can make a big difference in your daily intake of healthy fats. Adding two tablespoons of these to your cereal, yogurt, or smoothie contributes 6.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, plus omega-3 fatty acids. Add a little crunch to sauces and rice dishes, or soak chia seeds in advance to make this omega-3-packed Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding with Toasted Coconut.
Often used as a protein-rich substitute for meat, firm tofu packs 6.2 grams of polyunsaturated fat per half cup. The blocks of condensed soy milk come in a variety of textures, making this a versatile source of healthy fats. Try making a whipped, creamy dessert with silken tofu or this matcha soba noodle dish with spicy extra-firm tofu nuggets.
Tempeh is made from partially cooked soybeans that have been fermented with mold. That sounds slightly unappealing, but if you appreciate other fermented foods like sourdough bread or cheese, then you shouldn’t let a little fungus stop you from using this nutty-flavored bean cake. Just half a cup of tempeh contains 3.2 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat. For a better-for-you take on a comforting classic, try this Sriracha Tempeh Alfredo with cashew sauce.
Flaxseed is packing more than protein and fiber. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed also contain 4 grams of polyunsaturated fat (primarily omega-3s). Add these mighty seeds to smoothies, baked goods, and even yogurt for a tasty Fruit and Flax Breakfast Crumble. Just be sure to buy ground flaxseed—or toss in the coffee grinder before using—as whole seeds may pass through the intestine without being digested.
Eating these tasty nuts is a no-brainer when it comes to healthy fats. A small, one ounce helping of unsalted, dry roasted almonds contains an impressive 9.4 grams of monounsaturated fat and 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat. Keep a stash of these powerhouses in your desk drawer, add them to salads and cereal, or whip up a batch of this Cardamom, Almond, and Pumpkin Seed Butter to spread on warm, crusty bread—yum!
This Middle Eastern condiment is delicious—and did you know that it’s also a great source of healthy fats? One tablespoon of the sesame butter spread contains a total of 6.5 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Plump up your afternoon snack with a side of hummus, or try this quick and flavorful Salmon Quinoa Bowl with Golden Tahini Drizzle.
You’ve probably seen these vibrant green bean pods blanched in salt water and served at Japanese restaurants, but have you thought to try cooking with edamame at home? Not only does it add variety and a pop of color to meals, but edamame also adds—you guessed it—a boost of healthy fats (2.5 grams per half cup). Add it to pastas, salads, and rice bowls, or make your own zesty edamame appetizer with ginger chili dipping sauce at home.
Walnuts are full of healthy fats. Just one nut contains nearly 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat.
Enjoy a handful on their own or add some crunch to your yogurt, salad, or vegetable dishes. For a treat that you can feel good about, try this Raw Honey Walnut Cheesecake, and don’t forget to share.
Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the great kitchen staples, but have you considered keeping the fruit itself on hand? If these salty and sometimes sweet little snacks please your palate, then you’re in luck. Olives are high in monounsaturated fats—roughly 3 grams for every 10 olives—and they make a great addition to salads, pizzas, and charcuterie boards. For a double dose of the good fats, try your hand at this Tempeh with Syrian Lemon and Olive Sauce.
No list of healthy fats would be complete without this beloved superfood. Avocados seem to be on everyone’s grocery list as a superstar source of healthy fat, and for good reason. One avocado contains a whopping 19.7 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids, but keep in mind that due to its high calorie count the recommended serving size is 50 grams, or one-third of a medium avocado. Add it to your sandwiches, throw together an avocado and chocolate pudding, or prepare to impress with these Avocado and Salmon Cocktails.