Fat is an essential part of any healthy and balanced diet; a moderate amount can help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as regulate hormone levels and blood pressure1. To make sure you’re reaping these benefits from your food, it helps to be clued up on what they offer, especially in understanding the different types of fat (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans).
Here’s our guide to healthy plant-based sources of fat, to help you on your way. All can be added to or incorporated into your favourite recipes in tasty and healthy ways, and are widely available in local supermarkets and online.
Chia seeds are often touted as a ‘superfood’, and with good reason. Apart from a high protein and fibre content, these little Mexican seeds are a great source of Omega-3. Usually found in fish, this fatty acid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as to improve certain brain functions and heart health2. And the best way to eat them? Simply whip up our vegan French toast recipe – the chia seeds won’t affect the flavour, but they’ll give your morning breakfast an ‘egg-like’ consistency, as well as extra substance.
Renowned as an up-and-coming health food, cacao nibs are little bits of heaven which are high in antioxidants, iron, and are made up of almost 50% healthy unsaturated fat. They’re usually ground down to a paste with sugar (and occasionally milk) to make chocolate bars, but they can actually be eaten just as they are. As you can expect, they don’t have the same flavour as your favourite plant-based chocolate – they’re stronger, with a bitter edge – ideal for scattering on porridge or desserts.
Containing high levels of unsaturated fats which help to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease3, it goes without saying that almonds, pistachios, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts are great. Brazil nuts, cashews, and macadamia also contain good amounts of fat, but these have a higher saturated fat content. Either way, there are many, many ways to enjoy nuts – personally, we like to make our dreamy, hazelnut chocolate spread, or sneak walnuts into our vegan brownies for more depth of flavour.
Amazingly, avocados are 19% fat (mostly monounsaturated, to be specific). This is what gives them that creamy, buttery texture that we love (especially when spread on toast – the dreamiest Sunday brunch option). But this isn’t the only perk of this unusually fatty fruit – avocados are also a rich source of vitamin K, which is useful for absorbing protein, and potassium, which is important in lowering blood pressure4. Fun fact: avocados are sometimes known as ‘alligator pears’, as a description of their shape and bumpy alligator-like skin!
The Mediterranean Diet is often labelled as the world’s healthiest, and it owes its lofty position to generous helpings of seasonal fruit and veg, and lashings of high quality olive oil. This nectar of the gods contains various types of fatty acids, but by far the most present is Oleic acid (constituting around 73% of the total content of olive oil). A monounsaturated fat, oleic acid is an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to improve heart health. It’s important to remember, however, that not all olive oils are equal – cold-pressed and extra-virgin olive oils are far healthier than ‘pomace’ oil. The latter contain much higher levels of saturated fat, and can usually be distinguished by their much lighter colour (they’re also often labelled as ‘light olive oil’ in supermarkets).
If you’re looking to achieve a balanced plant-based diet, look no further than our blog. Here, we host a wide range of nutritionally-rich, flavoursome vegan breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and desserts – making plant-based eating that little bit easier!
Jenessa is Myvegan's Senior Content Executive with a penchant for brutal HIIT classes and thick post-workout smoothies. She spends the majority of her spare time getting creative with plant-based recipes, in the gym or enjoying the odd spot of yoga, and is passionate about making healthy and sustainable lifestyles approachable and accessible for all – no matter one’s background or budget.