You may have noticed that vegans and non-vegans alike have been going through a ‘good fats’ revolution.
You may be coming along all sorts of headlines like ‘fat is not the enemy’ and they mainly concern weight loss. Few vegans have made this choice of lifestyle for such reasons, though, and yet, healthy fats are an important topic for us.
Why is that?
Getting enough fat as a vegan is particularly important
Because it is required to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins D and vitamin K – both of which are essential for bone health. You can stand in the sun all day, but you won’t absorb vitamin D if you don’t have dietary fat to transport it into your body! Without enough dietary fat, you can suffer deficiencies in these fat-soluble vitamins as well as vitamins A and E. If you care about having great-looking skin, healthy bones, and preventing disease, you will want healthy fats in your diet to get these vitamins!
What are ‘good fats’?
Polyunsaturated fat is a class of fats which includes Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are generally referred to as “healthy fats”, and they are shown to reduce bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. They are crucial for forming cell walls and blood clotting. Unlike saturated fats which are produced by our livers, our bodies cannot make polyunsaturated fats so we need to consume them through food.
Monounsaturated fat is considered the “healthiest” fat to eat, specifically a type of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. It lowers bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol levels, protecting the heart. Oleic acid also promotes the production of antioxidants in the body, which in turn can help protect the body against disease.
7 Tasty Ways To Get More Healthy Fats As A Vegan
1. Avocado Spreads
The reason that avocados taste so good is because they are loaded with fat: 75-80% of the calories in an avocado come from fat. Most of these fats are healthy monounsaturated fats which help heart health. There is saturated fat in avocado, but the benefits of the healthy fats are so much that studies show avocado reduces the risk of heart disease.
2. Nut Cheeses
Nuts are one of the best sources of healthy fats and Omega 3, as well as other nutrients like protein magnesium, vitamin E and B vitamins. Some are also great sources of calcium and iron.
It is pretty easy to make a good nut cheese. You just soak some nuts (cashews work best) and then blend them up with some herbs and seasonings, and maybe some nutritional yeast too (which also happens to be a healthy fat).
3. Veggie Sticks with Fatty Dips and Spreads
Let’s say that you eat some celery sticks as a snack. Celery is rich in the fat soluble vitamins A and K. So, you would logically assume that celery is a good source of these vitamins. However, that is NOT the case because celery doesn’t contain any fat. In order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins from the celery, you need to consume some fat along with it. Luckily, celery tastes awesome slathered in peanut butter or dunked into a homemade vegan tzatziki.
Some ideas for fat-rich healthy snacks include:
- Bumps on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
- Vegan tzatziki with veggie sticks
- Coconut oil smoothies
- Tahini dip for chips
4. Make Your Own Fancy Salad Dressings
Don’t choose no-fat salad dressings! You need some fat in your salad dressings to help you absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the salad veggies. Plus, some fat is going to make the salad taste a heck of a lot better, thus increasing the likelihood that you will actually eat salad more often. Fat also helps you feel full for longer. Make your own salad dressing with healthy oils, avocado, coconut oil, or tahini as bases.
5. Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds deserve their title as a super food because they have a great Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio and are a great vegan source of calcium, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Still not sure what to do with these seeds aside from grow them into a chia pet? Try soaking 3 tbsp of chia seeds overnight in 1 cup of non-dairy milk (which is also a healthy fat) and add some fruit or chocolate. The chia seeds will expand and turn into a nice pudding that you can eat for breakfast.
6. Specialty Flours
Thanks to the paleo and gluten-free craze, there are now tons of options for flours. You can really enhance your diet by embracing other types of flours in your cooking. As far as healthy fats go, here are some tasty solutions:
Almond flour: You can buy it or make your own by blending almonds into a meal
Acorn flour: Yes, acorns are edible and super healthy! They are loaded with monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fats, as well as protein, iron, calcium, and B vitamins.
Coconut flour: This one works especially well for baking sweets because of the rich flavor it gives.
Teff flour: Teff is a grain from Africa and is used in making delicious fermented injera Ethiopian bread. It is gluten free and loaded with protein, iron, calcium, fiber, and healthy fats.
7. Flax Eggs
Because of its favorable Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio, flax is one of the healthiest fats in the world. If you are vegan, then you are already probably familiar with flax meal as an egg replacer. To make a “flegg” (flax egg), mix 1 tbsp of flax meal with 3 tbsp of warm water. Use in place of a regular egg when baking. You avoid the unhealthy fats and cholesterol from the egg while getting a boost of healthy fats plus fiber and nutrients from the flax.
Even though fats are healthy and needed in your diet – don’t go overboard with them! To avoid unnecessary weight gain, make sure to mainly combine them with veggies rather than starchy carbs and keep your portions under control!