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Healthy WFPB Fats to Improve Your Plant-Based Cooking

Friday, July 14, 2023

Primary Blog/whole food plant-based/Healthy WFPB Fats to Improve Your Plant-Based Cooking

Healthy Wfpb fats to improve your Plant-Based cooking

Fat tastes good!! PERIOD! Humans like the taste of fat and it really adds that dimension of taste and flavor that keep humans satiated.

There are several types of fats, each with its own chemical structure and characteristics. Here are some of the main types of dietary fats:

  • Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. They are found in animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, butter, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils like coconut oil and palm oil. These are DEFINITELY not a part of WFPB cooking. 
  • Unsaturated Fats: Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are considered healthier fats. They are primarily found in plant-based foods and fish. There are two main types of unsaturated fats

​Polyunsaturated Fats: Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. These fats are essential for the body and play a role in brain function, inflammation, and overall health.

Monounsaturated Fats: Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like olive oil, avocado, nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts), and seeds. They are considered heart-healthy and may help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

  • Trans Fats: Trans fats are artificially created fats that are formed through a process called hydrogenation, which solidifies liquid oils. Trans fats can be found in some margarines, fried and processed foods, and commercially baked goods. They are known to increase LDL cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. It is recommended to limit or avoid the consumption of trans fats as much as possible.

Of course, a diet based on whole plant foods would consist of the healthiest fats for humans which is unsaturated fat.

Here are some examples of healthy unsaturated fats commonly found in whole food plant-based foods:

  • Nuts: Fats like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts are rich in healthy fats, including monounsaturated and can be enjoyed as snacks, added to salads, or used as ingredients in recipes. Use nut butters to make salad dressings, desserts or even add to savory dishes for that healthy dimension of flavor. 

My weekly go-to is my Cashew Sour Cream that I use as a butter replacement for savory dishes. If you have a dish that you would slap on a pat of butter to give it that oh-so-good-and-satisfying flavor, I use my delicious Cashew Sour Cream recipe for it. It’s so good and the regular meat and dairy eaters in your life will enjoy it as well.

  • Seeds: Using seeds in WFPB cooking is a great way to add nutrition, texture, and flavor to your meals.

Flaxseeds and chia seeds can be used as a thickening agent or as an egg substitute in recipes.
Ground flaxseeds are great to add to baked goods such as muffins, bread, or pancakes for extra fiber and improved consistency.

Hemp seeds can be made into an alfredo-type sauce that is so good over whole wheat or chickpea pasta. Sesame seeds are good to cook with and add to rice and stirfry dishes for extra flavor and pumpkin and sunflower seeds are a great addition to salads.

According to Dr. Michael Gregor’s Daily Dozen list, 1 serving of nuts and seeds a day is optimal for human health.

  • Avocados: Avocados are a great way to add fats to salads, rice bowls and dips. However, it does not stop there!! Avocados are a FANTASTIC butter substitute for your baked goods. Do you want saturated fat in your cakes, cookies and pies? NO PROBLEM!! Replace avocado with a 1:1 ratio to butter. It is so good and you will not miss out on flavor.
  • Olives: Olives can be a flavorful and nutritious addition to your WFPB diet as a source of healthy fats.

Enjoy whole olives as a snack on their own. They come in different varieties, such as green, black, Kalamata, or Castelvetrano, each offering a unique flavor profile. You can add olives to salads, grain bowls, or pasta dishes for a burst of flavor and texture. Use them for your homemade pizzas! A good tomato sauce, with some vegetables, olives and seasonings on a whole wheat pita…DELICOUS!!!

Remember to consume olives in moderation as they can be high in sodium. Look for low-sodium options if you're watching your sodium intake.

  • Coconut: While high in saturated fats, coconut in its natural form, such as coconut meat, coconut milk, or coconut flakes, can be enjoyed in moderation in a WFPB diet. The majority of fats contained in coconuts are considered medium-chain bonds, “and therefore, appear to have a more favorable impact on blood lipids…than animal based saturated fats that are of a longer chain such as beef fat and butter.” Hewlings S. Coconuts and Health: Different Chain Lengths of Saturated Fats Require Different Consideration. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2020 Dec 17;7(4):59.

It's worth noting that whole food plant-based diets typically prioritize consuming fats in their natural, unprocessed forms rather than isolated oils or highly processed sources of fats. While fats are an essential part of a balanced diet, it's important to consume them in moderation and maintain a well-rounded approach to nutrition by incorporating a variety of plant-based foods into your meals.

For delicious whole-food plant-based recipes, purchase...

The Soul-full Whole Food Plant-based cookbook: healthy foods that feed the soul

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